Meyer gives Monsters, Blue Jackets a local flair

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

📝 by Patrick Williams

Carson Meyer has gone a long way without moving very far.

The 25-year-old Cleveland Monsters forward and Powell, Ohio, native continues to make a strong case for full-time duty with his hometown Columbus Blue Jackets.

Earning that National Hockey League spot would be the next step in the long path that Meyer has taken as a sixth-round draft pick. But in a sport in which players must often roam far from home, Meyer is managing to make his bid while remaining close to his roots in the Columbus area.

Dating back to his days playing in the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets youth hockey program, Meyer has played his entire career within the state of Ohio save for a brief detour to Nebraska with Tri-City of the United States Hockey League. He played his first two collegiate seasons at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, before transferring close to home at Ohio State, where he earned Academic All-Big Ten and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete awards.

After being drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2017, Meyer participated in three development camps with the team. He is bidding to become the latest graduate of the AAA Blue Jackets program to stick with the NHL club: the Columbus roster already features Sean Kuraly and Jack Roslovic.

After finishing his NCAA career, Meyer turned pro some 140 miles north of Columbus with the Cleveland Monsters in 2020-21, and he immediately made an impact. Meyer posted 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 26 games during the abbreviated campaign, and that progress extended into last season ― a difficult one for the last-place Monsters ― when Meyer contributed 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in 57 games.

Late last season Meyer earned his first opportunity in Columbus and scored his first NHL goal in his second-ever NHL game. He went on to play 13 games for the Blue Jackets, picking up two assists as well.

With that NHL experience in hand, Meyer put in an excellent summer of work. Like so many players today, his offseason work prioritized skating and attempting to add extra speed to his game. He then really grabbed the Blue Jackets’ attention in training camp and gave them plenty to wrestle with. After excellent fitness testing results, Meyer stuck with the team deep into the preseason before finally being sent to Cleveland as one of the team’s final cuts.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Meyer is also quite clear on how the Blue Jackets wish to deploy him, and he headed to Cleveland on excellent terms.

AAA Blue Jackets alumni Sean Kuraly, Jack Roslovic and Carson Meyer skated together with the NHL club last season. (Photo: Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

“I’ve just worked a lot to try to be more of a power forward energy guy, ramp up my physicality… finish every check, be hard on the forecheck,” Meyer said. “I think I’ve gotten that pretty dialed in, and I understand exactly the way that I need to play to best help the team.”

Meyer said the message he received from the Blue Jackets before heading to Cleveland earlier this month was a positive one.

“They were pretty happy with where I performed throughout camp and fitness testing, and the message was just come down and play the exact same way I was playing throughout camp and the last month or two of last season.

“If I can do that and just find consistency playing that way and do that every night, I think that’s going to be a good recipe for me.”

Meyer has done exactly that, helping Cleveland start the season well with three wins in their first five games. The new-look Monsters are averaging 4.20 goals per game after ranking 28th in the AHL in offense last season.

Monsters head coach Trent Vogelhuber (another Columbus-area product who came through the AAA Blue Jackets system) is using Meyer on the right side of Cleveland’s top line with Brendan Gaunce and rookie Kirill Marchenko. The trio has combined for 20 points in five games with Meyer contributing two goals and four assists, including back-to-back two-point games at Lehigh Valley over the weekend.

The Monsters’ six-game road trip concludes with three games in three cities spread across four nights, beginning tonight in Wilkes-Barre. It is the sort of schedule that tests young players throughout the AHL, forces them to grind out games and develop ways to remain effective even when energy might be lacking. Now a third-year pro, Meyer has learned how to manage those challenges.

“The schedule is difficult,” Meyer said of the AHL. “You have three-in-three, and you go on long road trips, but it’s important to find a way to impact the game in a positive way no matter how tired.”