CLEVELAND – The AHL’s defending Calder Cup Champions, the Cleveland Monsters announced Friday that the team signed forward Aaron Palushaj to an AHL contract for the 2016-17 season.
A 6’0”, 188 lb. right-handed native of Livonia, MI, Palushaj, 27, was selected in the second round by the St. Louis Blues (44th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and contributed 11-17-28 with 44 penalty minutes and a -18 rating in 57 appearances for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season. Palushaj is currently participating in training camp with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets on a professional tryout (PTO) contract.
Palushaj posted 3-11-14 with 18 penalty minutes and a -1 rating in 68 NHL appearances for the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes spanning parts of four seasons from 2010-14 and supplied 87-135-222 with 253 penalty minutes and a -5 rating in 315 AHL appearances for the Peoria Rivermen, Hamilton Bulldogs, Charlotte Checkers and Lehigh Valley spanning parts of seven seasons from 2009-16. Palushaj also contributed 7-14-21 with 48 penalty minutes and a +1 rating in 53 KHL appearances from Medvescak Zagreb and Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg during the 2014-15 season.
Prior to his professional career, Palushaj tallied 23-71-94 with 48 penalty minutes and a +36 rating in 82 NCAA appearances for the University of Michigan spanning two seasons from 2007-09. While at Michigan, Palushaj earned CCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA (West) First Team All-American honors in 2008-09 and helped the Wolverines claim the 2008 CCHA Championship. In the junior ranks, Palushaj helped the Des Moines Buccaneers claim the 2006 Clark Cup as USHL playoff champions and produced 32-68-100 with 115 penalty minutes and a +16 rating in 114 USHL appearances for Des Moines spanning two seasons from 2005-07.
Additionally, Palushaj twice represented Team USA in international competition, posting 2-3-5 with 10 penalty minutes and a +2 rating in six appearances at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships and supplying 1-1-2 with 12 penalty minutes and a -1 rating in nine appearances at the 2013 IIHF World Championships en route to a Bronze Medal finish for the Americans.