The Columbus Blue Jackets have named assistant general manager Bill Zito the general manager of the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters the team announced on Tuesday.
Zito has been in his role with the Blue Jackets for two years. According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Zito has been responsible for many of the club’s big contract negotiations including Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky and Sergei Bobrovsky.
“I’m honored and excited to take on this challenge,” Zito said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Lake Erie organization.”
Zito will maintain his current role with the Jackets and oversee all hockey operations efforts for Lake Erie.
The 50-year-old replaces Chris MacFarland who left the Blue Jackets in May to join the Colorado Avalanche.
Prior to joining the Blue Jackets in August 2013, Zito spent two decades as an agent Acme World Sports representing the likes of Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask and Kimmo Timonen.
With six defensemen already under contract for the 2015-16 season the Colorado Avalanche are unlikely to re-sign Jan Hejda or Ryan Wilson according to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post.
Both blue liners are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Hejda had a goal and 12 assists to go along with a minus-12 rating during the 2014-15 season. The 36-year-old made $3.25 million in the final year of his four-year, $13 million deal.
Wilson’s three-year, $6.75 million deal expires next month. The 28-year-old appeared in just three games with the Avalanche in 2014-15 prior to undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in November. Over the past three seasons Wilson has appeared in just 43 games with Colorado and one game with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
The future of Stefan Elliott is also uncertain.
Chambers reports the defenseman has fallen out of favor with the Avs.
Elliott is a pending restricted free agent as his one-year, $850,000 deal is set to expire on July 1.
The 24-year-old appeared in five games for the Avs in 2014-15 season registering a minus-2 rating and two penalty minutes. Elliott also appeared in 64 AHL games with the Lake Erie Monsters where he had 19 goals and 40 points to go along with 22 penalty minutes and a minus-9 rating.
The top farm club of the Columbus Blue Jackets could be a lot closer to its parent team next season.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Jackets could partner with the Lake Erie Monsters beginning as early as next season.
The Monsters play at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
The talks of an affiliation change reportedly began with news of the Florida Panthers partnering with Portland. The Portland Pirates had been the affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes while San Antonio had been partnered with Florida.
The Dispatch’s report cites a story from radio station WHTK in Rochester, N.Y., which has the Colorado Avalanche looking to move from Lake Erie to San Antonio. The station also reported the Arizona Coyotes are now interested in Springfield, MA as a possibility for their AHL club.
The aforementioned relocations would then leave Lake Erie without an NHL partner
Springfield has been the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets since 2010, but according to the Dispatch’s sources, there is a mutual opt-out clause in the contract between the two clubs this summer.
Lake Erie Monsters goaltender Reto Berra made a little history Friday night becoming the 11th goaltender in American Hockey League history to score a goal.
However, the Chicago Wolves, who dropped the game 5-1, weren’t happy with how the goaltender celebrated.
Forward Colin Fraser stepped in to let Berra know as you can see from the video.
“It’s not everyday a goalie scores and congrats to him. Celebrate it by all means. I just didn’t like the fly-by by our bench and rubbing it in,” Fraser told PHT. “It was a tough end to a tough game for us.
“We haven’t been playing well and I was frustrated.”
Chicago coach John Anderson wasn’t happy with the celebration either.
“I think it’s a wonderful play by him. I just didn’t think that the way he celebrated was necessary,” Anderson told Brian Sandalow of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think their guys would’ve come down (to him). They were happy for him. (Heck) of a play. Good for him.
“To do that and jump up and down… again it’s a wonderful thing, but come on. You’re in the other team’s building. You can’t show them up like that.”
The Colorado Avalanche recalled center Paul Carey and assigned forward Andrew Agozzino to its’ American Hockey League affiliate the club announced on Sunday.
Carey, 26, appeared in 12 regular season games for the Avalanche last season registering a plus-2 rating. He also suited up in two playoff games last spring. In 15 games with the Lake Erie Monsters this season, Carey has four goals and nine points. Carey was originally a fifth round pick (135th overall) in 2007.
Agozzino was recalled on Friday and had an assist while playing just under 10 minutes in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. In 14 games with Lake Erie this season, the 23-year-old has three goals and eight points. Agozzino was an undrafted, free agent signing by the Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado returns to action on Tuesday when they visit the Arizona Coyotes.