Andrew Peeke made his professional hockey debut this season splitting time between the Cleveland Monsters and Columbus Blue Jackets. At the start of the season, the rookie defensemen slotted into the lineup alongside veteran Dillon Simpson on the Monsters second pairing.
"He knows what it takes to be a good player here. He’s helped me stay simple and play smart and play hard. Little things like that. It’s nice playing with a guy like him to bounce things off of. " - Andrew Peeke on his defensive partner Dillon Simpson#CLEMonsters #CBJ— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) November 3, 2019
From the beginning, Peeke understood his role on the Monsters was to be a defender first and score when needed. This was very apparent when in November I asked him about his ability to put points on the board as a defender. He quickly responded, “I always take care of the defensive side first but it’s always nice to chip in offensively.”
As the season wore on, Peeke added new skills to his repertoire such as mirroring the goalie and dropping opposing forwards behind the Monsters’ net. These new skills paired with his ability to scoop up rebounds and willingness to throw his body in front of shots piqued the interest of the Blue Jackets.
When the injuries began to pile up, the Blue Jackets knew exactly who to bring up from the Monsters. Peeke was sent to the big leagues in both December and February. Due to an injury, he didn’t make as much noise in his December call-up as anticipated. However, February and March paved the way for solid defending from Peeke.
Upon resumption of the season, Peeke spent his time riding the pine watching and learning from the veterans on the ice.
Andrew Peeke 2019-20 stats
Games Played: 29
Columbus Blue Jackets
Games Played: 22
Peeke is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season. Due to the combination of age and professional experience, Peeke falls into the 10.2(c) player category. Which means no other team but the Blue Jackets can offer sheet Peeke and he can only sign or negotiate a contract with them. However, if the Jackets do not offer him a qualifying offer by 5pm on June 25th, 2021, Peeke will become an unrestricted free agent.
On February 16th, 2020, Peeke scored his first career NHL goal. It was this play which allowed the Blue Jackets to see what Peeke brings to the team from both an offensive and defensive standpoint.
Peeke hovered around the blue line while the offense moved towards the net. As Sonny Milano cut across the crease to shoot the puck, Peeke effortlessly glided into scoring position which allowed him to pick up the rebound and toss it in the net for the goal. Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils’ netminder, didn’t have time to register the fact Peeke was no longer hanging out at the blue line.
First NHL goal for Andrew Peeke! pic.twitter.com/U3isT1etKU— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 16, 2020
Also of note, Peeke had three multi-point games in the span of five games at the beginning of the season for the Monsters.
After an errant puck rolled up his stick causing a finger to break, Peeke sat on the Blue Jackets’ injured reserve list for almost a month. Upon activation from the IR, Peeke was sent back to the Monsters and immediately entered the line up. His first few games back were shaky as he struggled to lay hits, was easily knocked off his axis, and turned the puck over a few times. The good news is Peeke was only off for two games.
Peeke’s ability to find his groove after an injury will prove beneficial as time goes on.
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