Behind The Bench: Matt Calvert
Born: December 24, 1989
Wt: 175 lbs
Draft: 127th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008
Plays for: Columbus Blue Jackets, Left Wing, Shoots Left
Jersey No.: #11
Regular Season: 42 GP – 11 G – 9 A – 20 P
Playoffs: 0 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 P
Matt Calvert is the only player in WHL history to score a natural short-handed hat-trick in a single period in a span of 6:47 during the WHL playoffs. He accomplished this feat in the 2010 WHL Eastern Conference Finals agains the Calgary Hitmen with his team down 4-0.
Calvert spent 3 season in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings. In his second year with the team he was named an alternate captain. Calvert was then drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets 127th overall in 2008. Calvert had a strong training camp with the Blue Jackets in 2008 but opted to the Wheat Kings for a third season and a chance to win the 2010 Memorial Cup, which was being hosted in Brandon. Calvert was named captain of the Wheat Kings for the 09/10 season. He finished the season 99 points in 68 games. He led the WHL in shorthanded goals (9) and is second for game-winning goals (10). Calvert helped lead the team to the Memorial Cup finals but the Wheat Kings were defeated 9-1 by the Windsor Spitfires. Calvert scored the only goal for the Wheat Kings. Calvert was named to the 2010 Memorial Cup All-Star Team for his performance in the Memorial Cup.
The Blue Jackets announced on March 18, 2010 that Matt Calvert had signed a three-year ELC.
The following season, Calvert joined the Blue Jackets for their training camp. He did not make the Blue Jackets roster and was sent down to the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. Calvert was called up by the Blue Jackets on January 6, 2011 and scored his first goal in his second NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings. He played 9 games with the Blue Jackets before he was sent down to the Falcons during the All-Star break. He was recalled when the regular season resumed. Calvert stayed with the Blue Jackets for the remained of the season. He scored a natural hat-trick on February 25, 2011 against the Phoenix Coyotes, it was his first NHL hat-trick and only the 19th in Blue Jackets franchise history. Rick Nash scored 5 of the franchise’s 19 hat-tricks. Calvert played 38 games with the Falcons recording 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. While with the Blue Jackets he played 42 games recording 11 goals and 9 assists for 20 points, on pace for 40 points.
If Calvert stays with the Blue Jackets next season, he will likely start the season either on the second or third-line depending on how Scott Arniel distributes his offense. Calvert could very well end up in the AHL if the Blue Jackets are looking for a tough shut down third line. Calvert has the offensive talents to produce on the second-line but he also has the defensive abilities to be relied on in a checking role. Calvert ended the season on the second unit power play and should stay there next season. Calvert should be counted on to produce 40-50 points in his first full season unless he suffers from a sophomore slump.
Calvert’s hockey sense is through the roof, he sees the ice really well and has great anticipation. Calvert has good offensive talents. He has a very good shot that he uses to his advantage, he can score goals and set up his linemates with equal aplomb. He has good speed but he has room for improvement. Although he is a diminutive winger, Calvert does not shy away from high-traffic areas and is willing to take a hit to make a play. He is a pure team player with excellent leadership abilities. Calvert is one of the most unselfish players you’ll ever see on the ice. Calvert has decent hands but it his hard work that make him a good player. He works hard every shift he is on the ice and more times than not will out work a defender to a loose puck.
Calvert has shown the aptitude to be an effective penalty killer and reliable in his own zone (+3 last season). He has an active stick that he gets into passing lanes and is more than willing to use his body to block shots. His hand-eye co-ordinations not bad either.
Calvert’s weaknesses are the same weakness as many smaller wingers, size and strength. These two things will always be an issue for him but he needs to find a way to overcome both. Calvert does have deceptive lower body strength and balance but he can still be easily knocked over by bigger defenders. He also needs to improve his “first stride”, if he can improve his first stride, he’ll be able to take better advantage of turnovers and flat-footed defenders. He also needs to work on protecting the puck better and using his speed to draw more penalties for the team. It would be advantageous for Calvert to shoot the puck more as well, he was just over a shot a game in his first season with a 22% shooting percentage.
He may not have the high-end skill to ever become an elite winger but he has the leadership, the tenacity and unselfishness to become a reliable first-line winger on most teams and a great second-line winger all teams. Don’t be surprised if Calvert goes on to become a great NHL captain in the future.
Scoring three shorthanded goals in one game is impressive enough but to score three in one period, in a span of 6:47 is unreal. His natural shorthanded hat trick alone make him STP’s Player of the Day but then to go on to the NHL and score his first NHL hat-trick, a natural one at that, 2 months into his career. That’s just Matt Calvert being Matt Calvert.
Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.