Coming off a successful year for the Brandon Wheat Kings, there were still questions about Matt Calvert‘s ability to produce when he was not on a line with 2009 top-10 picks Scott Glennie (DAL) and Brayden Schenn (LA). Calvert has answered those questions at the 2009 Traverse City Tournament with four points in two games for Columbus, including a hat trick. The 2008 fifth-round pick is tied for the tournament lead in goals and points. Perhaps most importantly, the left winger has played well with different lines each day — Stefan Legein on Sunday and Tomas Kubalik on Monday.
Calvert dotes on his stick like a goal scorer, but he’s no glamor forward. The small but gritty forward has a lunch pail mentality. He was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior camp last December, but had to leave due to a back injury. The Brandon, Manitoba native turns 20 on Dec. 24.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Calvert after practice on Monday in Traverse City.
HF: Did you enjoy playing with Legein the first game?
MC: Yeah, definitely. I think we have similar styles. We both like to grease it up in the corners and get pucks to the net. Not the fanciest guys, but we get the job done.
HF: Since you were on such a strong line in junior, do you feel pressure to prove you can produce no matter who you play with?
MC: No, not really. Obviously you want to produce no matter who you play with, but I’ve always been the kind of guy who can step in with anyone and try to work as hard as I can. I usually mesh with a lot of people. Here you’re not as used to them as your linemates back in junior, but there’s a lot of really good hockey players here so you can’t complain.
HF: It sounds like you’d describe yourself as a utility player, would that be fair?
MC: Yeah, whatever I need to do, I’ll do.
HF: You’re old enough that you could play pro this year, and you’ve decided to stay in junior.
MC: It was definitely a big decision. I think I’m ready for the next step. But we’re hosting the Memorial Cup in Brandon and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. So we’re just going to see how it plays out, it’s not a 100 percent decision yet, but I’ll keep on working and see how far I get in Columbus camp, see if I can crack the main camp roster, and go from there. They’ll evaluate me and let me know where I stand.
HF: Are you looking forward to playing against Glennie on Wednesday?
MC: Yeah, definitely. I know all of Glenn’s moves so it should be a fun game out there. He’s a good guy.
HF: How do you stop him?
MC: I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve (laughs), but I won’t let it out of the bag.
HF: Will you tell your defensemen how to defend him?
MC: When the time comes I’m sure I’ll tell them what type of player he is. But there’s so many good players out here, and Glennie’s definitely one of the better ones.
HF: What kind of off-season training did you do this summer and was it different than normal?
MC: I train in Brandon with Bobbi Schram (Outperform Athletics). She’s an awesome trainer, really focuses on the speed and the core to get you ready for hockey instead of what some places do — body building. We work a lot on the track, quick feet. I definitely think I’ve gotten faster every summer I’ve been with her.
HF: Was tough leaving the World Junior camp in December due to the injury?
MC: Well, I went there being injured and knew I had a slim chance of trying out. But I tried it once on the ice and it just didn’t work. So I got looked at by the team doctors, who are pretty good doctors, so that was the main goal. But yeah, it was definitely tough, it’s not an easy thing. It happens in hockey, you have to battle some adversity. But I’m past it and very happy that Canada won obviously. Good to see them win.