Columbus prospect Matt Calvert took some time to answer a few questions with me yesterday. He's currently leading his junior team, the Brandon Wheatin scoring with 31 goals, 30 assists for 61 points in 45 games played. He also has 50 penalty minutes and is a plus-24 on the year.
He is one of Columbus' top prospects, and did not look out of place earlier this season in training camp and in the pre-season. He has a very good chance of making the Blue Jackets out of training camp next season.
Here's the Q and A:
First of all Matt, thanks for your time.
1) Brandon's your home town, how excited are you knowing that you will be playing for the Memorial Cup on home ice?
It's really exciting, it's one of the main reasons I decided to return to the WHL. I want to win a championship and I can't imagine winning it with a better group of guys here in Brandon.
2) You're currently leading the Wheaties in scoring, what has been the key factor in your success this year?
We have a great team, from the forwards, to the defense to the goaltenders. I have great linemates in Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie, so that helps. I just keep trying to get better, doing things Columbus wants me to do to get better.
3) You had a very strong Traverse City tournament, followed by a great showing at the Columbus training camp. What went into making the decision to return to Brandon rather than sign your first pro contract?
The main reason was the chance to play for the Memorial Cup, knowing that Brandon was the host. It was an easy decision because there's a great group of guys in Brandon. I wanted to be a leader for this team and I'm proud to have been named co-captain.
4) Do you keep in touch with any Columbus prospects during the season?
You get pretty close to the other guys from all the camps you are involved in, I keep in touch with a bunch, guys like Brent Regner in Syracuse.
5) The Blue Jackets are struggling this year, how closely do you follow the big club?
I follow them very closely, I watch them on TV when I can. They are having a bit of a rough season but they are a young team and I am sure they'll be fine down the road.
6) What are your strengths as a player?
I would have to say my speed and my work ethic. I'm not the biggest guy so I need to outwork my opponents to have success.
7) What would you consider to be an area(s) you'd like to improve on?
Like most players who are making the jump I have to work on my physical strength. There's always the little things like your passing and shooting that you always have to improve as you work your way up.
8) What was your favourite NHL team growing up?
For a while it was Chicago, and in later years Toronto, but now I'm a Blue Jackets fan!
9) Do you have a favourite player?
Marty St. Louis
10) What do you like to do in your spare time?
In the summers when I'm not working out I like to improve my golf game, I love golf and I managed to get out 60 plus times this past summer.
11) What has been your favourite moment in your hockey career so far?
Getting drafted, for sure.
A huge thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer these questions, and a special thanks to Derek Zona of the SBNation blog The Copper & Blue, and to Matt McNish of the Brandon Wheat Kings for facilitating this interview.