I-71 Report: New Year, New Moves


As the NHL season cruises past the halfway point, the traffic on Interstate 71 has continued steadily. The Columbus Blue Jackets, the Monsters’ NHL affiliate, currently rank number two in the Metropolitan Division, while the Monsters rank fifth in the AHL’s North Division.

The Jackets have missed key players in their lineup, leading to movement between the teams. On Dec. 16, Columbus recalled defenseman Dean Kukan from his conditioning loan. While in Cleveland, Kukan played five games and posted 1-1-2 with an even plus/minus rating. Since returning to Columbus, he has seen ice time in two games.

Movement between the teams picked up when left wing Eric Robinson received the call up from Cleveland on Dec. 30. While in Columbus, the rookie suited up three times and made his season debut with a start against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 5.

When asked about the experience, Robinson said, “It’s really exciting just to get a chance to be here. Like you said, to get to play against some of the top teams in the league - it’s been great for me and for my development.”



Robinson tallied 3 shots with an even plus/minus rating while in Columbus and returned to Cleveland on Jan. 11. After joining the team for a road match up in Binghamton on Jan. 12, Robinson continued his season campaign with the Monsters which totals 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in 33 games.

Joining Robinson and the Blue Jackets, goaltender Jean-Francois Berube was called up to the NHL on Jan. 10. Berube backed up Joonas Korpisalo during the Jackets 4-3 home win over the Nashville Predators and was assigned back to Cleveland the next day on Jan. 11.

Center Kevin Stenlund also made the trip south on Jan. 11 to join Anthony Duclair and Alexander Wennberg on the Jackets third line. On Jan. 13, Columbus downed the New York Rangers 7-5 at home. During his time in Cleveland, Stenlund has made 33 appearances for Cleveland this season and has tallied 9-7-16.



During the same period of changes, the Blue Jackets recalled defenseman Gabriel Carlsson on Jan. 12, and right wing Kole Sherwood on Jan. 13. Carlsson and Sherwood were both healthy scratches for the Blue Jackets Jan. 13 game against the Rangers and both were reassigned back to Cleveland on Jan. 14.  

Next up, the Monsters head to Laval for a two-game away stand against the Rocket on Jan. 18 and 19, before heading back home to finish out the month. On Jan. 26, Monsters host the Chicago Wolves for Cleveland Heroes Rock Night. All games can be found on AHLTV and Alt 99.1 FM.