There is no question in my mind that Matt Calvert is a major bright spot on the Columbus roster of late, and could easily be considered the top prospect that has brought the most upside to the main club this year. In fact, I would be hard pressed to believe anyone who claimed that the 127th pick in the 2008 draft would make such a substantial difference with the big club next year, let alone this year. His hattrick last night upped his goal total to nine this year, in the twenty games he has spent with the big club.
As much as I am personally excited to see his success, I have focused on a couple different aspects of how his play has made a difference on the team dynamic, and I wanted to share them.
First, this makes Nikita Filatov 100% expendable. At the beginning of the year, I had a tremendous amount of confidence in the potential star power Fily is capable of bringing to the Columbus top six. I can admit being both wrong, and was completely devastated when it became clear that he had a great deal of developing to do before he would become a viable top six forward. What makes him expendable, is the current Jackets lineup. With the addition of Calvert to the top six, the Jackets first two lines look like some form of the following:
Not only does this allow Arniel to force Juice down to the third line, it gives him room to bring in a legit top six player if someone is taking advantage of their position with lazy or foolish play. This lineup of course would be my ideal option once Brassard returns from injury, which should be somewhere within the next two weeks.
Second, it makes Huselius expendable. I have long badgered his lazy play, and I feel like Calvert is about as non-Huselius as a player can get. The kid flat out hustles, taking great advantage of every opportunity he is given, and forcing the issue when the opposition has the puck. While his size would lead you to believe he would be more of a finesse player, his 5’9 frame actually ends up giving the presence of a 6’3 player the way he throws his body around on the ice. Essentially, this roster swap changes the ‘patience’ of Juice to the frenetic, exciting play of Calvert, a player who was noticeably on the shoulders of the entire fanbase Friday night against Phoenix.
As it stands, Calvert has 9 goals in 20 games. He also has 5 goals in his last 3 games, and 6 goals in his last 4. These numbers are not familiar to fourth round picks who are brought up to the main club as a rookie over halfway into the season. It leads me to my final comment about his rise with the Jackets, and it relates to the quality drafting done by the Jackets over the last few seasons. Notably, on their current roster, they have (of those they have drafted) Methot (168th – 2003), Calvert (127th – 2008), Clitsome (271st – 2004), Dorsett (189th – 2006), Boll (101st – 2005), Murray (242nd – 2001). Obviously excluded are the players drafted in the top 100 who are finding great success (Nash, Brassard, Russell, Mason, Voracek) on the roster and most of whom are signed to fairly reasonable extensions with the club.