*updated 10/14/2020 at 7:30 pm
With the departure of the Columbus Blue Jackets from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the offseason is in full effect. There are 13 players in the organization who have spent significant time with the Cleveland Monsters and are set to hit the free agency waters this fall. On the Monsters side of things, there are four AHL-only contracts they need to worry about re-signing or extending. However, the Monsters hands are slightly tied until they see what the Jackets start doing with the contracts they hold.
The list is broken down into four sections. Gained, Lost, Free Agents, and Re-signed/Extended (will be added when those happen).
This list will be updated as signings happen throughout the offseason.
April 6th 2020 - Wyatt Newpower (D)
Newpower hails from the University of Connecticut where he spent the 2019-2020 season as the captain of the Men’s Ice Hockey team. With 42 blocked shots over the course of 34 games, Newpower will be a welcome addition to the Monsters’ blue line. Newpower will also add a little bit of a scoring touch to the defense as he is good at helping set up meaningful and successful plays.
April 24th 2020 - Adam Helewka (F)
During the 2019-20 season, Helewka spent 38 games playing in the SHL for Linkoping HC and eight games in the KHL for Barys Nur-Sultan. He provided scoring power for both teams and will be a nice addition to the second or third line in Cleveland.
May 4th 2020 - Matthew Struthers (F)
Straight out of the Ontario Hockey League, Struthers will add much needed playmaking skills to the bottom six. If he can keep up his penchant for scoring, the Monsters will likely move him up to center the top six.
September 5th, 2020 - Zach Jordan (F)
The Monsters signed the former alternate captain of the University of Nebraska-Omaha to an AHL contract on September 5th. In 128 games for the UNO Mavericks, Jordan notched 72 points spread almost evenly across goals (38) and assists (34). Jordan is a hard working forward known to pull multi point games out of thin air and notch points on power plays.
Until the 2020-2021 season starts, Jordan will be a player development mentor and coach for TPH St Louis.
October 8th, 2020 - Cliff Pu (RW)
Pu was traded from the Florida Panthers to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Markus Nutivaara. During the 2019-20 season, Pu played in a mere 14 games. It appears his development has stalled a bit. Putting him on the Monsters roster with a coach like Mike Eaves could likely kick start his skill again.
October 9th, 2020 - Gavin Bayreuther (D)
The Blue Jackets signed Gavin Bayreuther to a one-year, two-way contract on the first day of free agency. Bayreuther has spent the majority of his time as a staple on the blue line for the Texas Stars. In 198 games played over the span of four seasons with the Stars, Bayreuther tallied 22 goals and 69 (nice) assists for a total of 91 points.
Leading into free agency, the Monsters were lacking defensive depth. Bayreuther helps fill a huge void on the roster in Cleveland and will be a perfect partner for Adam Cledening on the first pair.
October 14th, 2020 - Tyler Sikura (Forward)
The Cleveland Monsters signed Tyler Sikura to a one-year AHL contract for the 2020-21 season on October 14th. Sikura is a versatile forward who can slot into any line at either center or wing. During the 2019-20 season, he led the Rockford IceHogs in points with 34 (14g, 20a) spread over the course of 63 games.
Sikura knows how to turn on the burners through the neutral zone and doesn’t stop until he has a clear lane to shoot down. If there isn’t a clear lane, Sikura will create one or pass the puck off to a teammate who has the open lane.
The tweet below is from the 2017-18 season but it highlights Sikura’s willingness to hustle to finish the job.
Joonas Korpisalo managed to stop Laurent Dauphin from scoring with a beautiful poke check.— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) January 7, 2018
Tyler Sikura chased down the rebound and launched it into the net to tie the game at three. #Hustler @goicehogs pic.twitter.com/d2gtj8X4bc
Re-signed by Blue Jackets/Monsters
Kole Sherwood (F)
The Jackets signed Sherwood to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2020-21 season. He was then loaned to Kunlun Red Star of the KHL with the expectation of joining the Jackets organization at the start of the NHL/AHL season.
Matiss Kivlenieks (G)
On October 8th, 2020, the Jackets signed Kivlenieks to a two-year, two-way contract worth $700k/$225k in 2020-21 and $750k/$275k in 2021-22.
October 12th, 2020 - Justin Scott (F), Dillon Simpson (D), Brad Thiessen (G)
The Monsters announced the signings of Justin Scott (F), Dillon Simpson (D), and Brad Thiessen (G) to one-year AHL contracts for the 2020-21 season. It is expected that Thiessen will retain his role as goalie coach.
July 2nd 2020 - Sam Vigneault (C)
Vigneault signed with the Laval Rocket on July 2nd, 2020. With the abundance of youth in the system for the Jackets and the Monsters, it was likely Vigneault saw the writing on the wall and decided it was best to sign with his hometown team.
Jakob Lilja (F) and Marko Dano (F)
Both Jakob Lilja (Barys Nul-Sultan: KHL) and Marko Dano (HC Ocelari Trinec) were set to be restricted free agents this offseason but signed overseas during the Jackets postseason run. It is important to note that I have heard no confirmation on if Dano signed overseas or not. However, it looks to be true based on deep dives within the internet.
With the depth in the organization and the unknowns revolving around the 2020-21 season, it makes sense that any European player would sign with a team near their home. Also, there are many times, usually during a lockout, when a player signs a contract overseas that ends the moment the AHL/NHL season starts up again. So, depending on how things go free agency wise for the Monsters, Dano and Lilja could be back with the Monsters.
Although, I don’t forsee either of them signing a contract with the Jackets.
Update - Neither Lilja or Dano were given qualifying offers from the Jackets.
AHL Only Free Agents
Steve Johnson (D)
Anton Karlsson (D)
Bryan Moore (F)
NHL/AHL Free Agents
Restricted Free Agent
Gabriel Carlsson (D) - given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Ryan MacInnis (F) (arbitration eligible) - given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Kevin Stenlund (F) - given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Calvin Thurkauf (F) - given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Unrestricted Free Agents
Paul Bittner (F) - not given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Ryan Collins (D) - not given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Maxime Fortier (F) - not given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Michael Prapavessis (D) (arbitration eligible) - not given a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets on 10/5/2020
Doyle Somerby (D)