The Blue Jackets and Lake Erie Monsters have begun the process of building an AHL roster, signing four players to minor-league contracts, including former Springfield Falcons captain Ryan Craig.
Craig inked a two-year AHL contract with the organization, while Trent Vogelhuber, Seth Ambroz and big Belarusian defenseman Oleg Yevenko all agreed to one-year AHL deals. Here's a quick look at each guy:
Ryan Craig - Forward
It would appear the Monsters already have their captain, as Craig held that position the last three years in Springfield. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder brings a bit of a goal-scoring touch (55 tallies over three seasons) to Cleveland. More importantly, the 33-year-old Craig will supply veteran leadership, having skated in nearly 200 NHL games with Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Columbus. Plus he was a Brandon Wheat King during his junior hockey days, and that's always a good thing as far as we're concerned here at the Cannon.
Trent Vogelhuber - Forward
Now THIS is an Ohio boy through and through! Vogelhuber is a native of the Columbus suburb of Dublin and played collegiately at Miami of Ohio. His entire AHL career, spanning parts of four seasons, was spent in Springfield, where last season he tallied 16 points in a career-high 64 games. This was his entirely uninspiring scouting report from hockeysfuture.com when he came out of Miami: "...a quick forward who is average in most areas without being exceptional in any areas. He has a decent hockey sense and plays well in his own zone, but his offensive talent is limited." We'll assume he's a "get your nose dirty and do the intangibles" type of player...
Seth Ambroz - Forward
Ambroz (6-3, 215) is entering his first full season as a professional following four years as a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher. Before that he played three years with Omaha of the USHL, where he was known for an accurate shot and was a key to Omaha's strong power play, racking up 95 points over his last two seasons (to go along with a combined 207 PIMs).
Oleg Yevenko - Defenseman
Yevenko checks in at 6-7, 230 pounds. We promise to try our best this season not to make Ivan Drago comparisons (which wouldn't be accurate anyway, seeing as Drago was Russian and Yevenko is from Belarus. Not to mention that Drago was a fictional character played by Dolph Lundgren, while Yevenko is presumably a real hockey player). Another former collegiate player (UMass-Amherst) preparing for his first pro year, Yevenko appeared in four games last year with the AHL's Adirondack Flames, where he didn't register a point but did manage to post 14 PIMs. Five of those minutes came in his first professional fight, which interestingly was against former Monsters enforcer Daniel Maggio. That tilt was a good one and is worth a look, if you have a minute.