Only four Blue Jacket prospects skated at the North American junior level during the 2008-09 season, as the upper tier of the current prospect pool made a significant impact between Columbus and Syracuse. The three defensemen in the junior ranks provide future depth to what is already a system long on defensive prospects, highlighted by hard-charging offensive defenseman Brent Regner. Joining him in the WHL this season has been Brandon forward Matt Calvert, who continues to look the part of an upwardly-mobile scoring wing in his second lap around the western junior circuit.
Matt Calvert, LW – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
5th Round, 127th Overall, 2008 Entry Draft
Quietly developing into a consistent scoring threat off the wing in his sophomore season with Brandon is 19-year-old Matt Calvert. A fifth-round selection in the 2008 draft on the strength of a quality freshman campaign in 2007-08, Calvert has taken another step this year for the Wheat Kings. In 58 regular-season games, the Brandon native averaged over a point-per-game, tallying 28 goals and 39 assists in a year highlighted by selection as the WHL Player of the Week in March.
That success has translated into the post-season, as Calvert has accounted for six goals in as many playoff games to go with three assists. His overall game has picked up since the turn of the new year, with 22 goals scored over his past 39 games. With his offensive talent and work ethic, there are several directions his career might take from this point moving forward. If his current playoff performance is any indication, Calvert will likely be in line for a long audition with Syracuse by the autumn of 2010.
Brent Regner, D – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
5th Round, 137th Overall, 2008 Entry Draft
The other Jackets prospect skating in the WHL this year is offensive defenseman Brent Regner, who has made great strides in his third season with the Vancouver Giants. Like Calvert, Regner turned in his best amateur performance to date. In 70 regular-season games for the Giants, Regner potted 15 goals to go with 52 assists, just off a point-per-game pace for a player who went undrafted in 2007. The 19-year-old rearguard has continued that pace into the playoffs, contributing a goal and five assists in six post-season games, helping the Giants march towards a possible WHL championship showdown with Calvert’s Brandon squad. Once off the NHL radar, Regner is now very much on the Jackets and adds to a deep blueline corps within the system.
Coming off an impressive high school career in his native Minnesota, Olson has turned in a solid rookie campaign for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. In 39 games this season, the blueliner tallied a pair of goals on 35 shots to go with six assists and a +3 rating. While not eye-popping numbers, the Brainerd native contributed enough towards the end of the season to suggest that the future remains bright for the former Minnesota Mr. Hockey candidate. Having just turned 19 earlier this month, Olson will likely head to the University of Minnesota-Duluth this autumn to begin what should be a four-year internship at the collegiate level.