The year that was...
At first glance, Matt Calvert doesn’t appear to be a sure-fire, top-six forward. He’s not the biggest guy, he was limited to only 56 games due to injury last season, and his nine goals in 2014 matched a career high. But a top-six forward is what Calvert was at the end of last season for Columbus, and his contributions in the Stanley Cup playoffs showed his value in a nutshell.
Calvert posted two goals and two assists in the Blue Jackets’ first round series with the Penguins, and his double-overtime goal in Game 2 clinched the first playoff win in franchise history. Calvert’s presence around the net and gritty style was on full display, and those qualities will need to grow for him to have similar success this season.
|Click the photo for Matt Calvert's 2013-14 "season in photos" gallery. |
Where is he now?
Calvert will probably be nudged down to the third line thanks to the acquisition of Scott Hartnell, and it may be a role that suits his game naturally. Calvert posted the sixth-best Corsi For (CF%) rating on the team, and if you watched him play with Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson, it makes sense. That trio had the puck a lot and generated a lot of attempts, making it hard for Todd Richards to split them up.
Overall, Calvert is an energy player for the Jackets and drags his teammates into the fight. He has a finishing touch around the net, but his impact won’t be summed up in the goal column. Calvert is an emotional spark, a physical presence whose five fights last season tied for the team lead, but he can be used in most situations. In a third-line role, Calvert’s game won’t change, yet facing a lesser caliber of defensive competition could cause a spike in his offensive production.
If Calvert can stay healthy, he can be a solid contributor for the Jackets this season. Calvert has the speed to both create space and be an available target for his line mates, whether it's Dubinsky and Atkinson or another combination.
Calvert’s offensive opportunities should spike without any change to his style of play, aside from his scoring confidence. It’s one of the reasons he remains one of Columbus’ most versatile forwards. With Nathan Horton’s injury trouble last year and an otherwise young roster, Calvert has proven his ability to move between the second and fourth lines and play well at both ends, making him a valuable component in Richards’ lineup.