Yes, the Flyers just clinched a berth in the Cup Finals. Keep celebrating. This has nothing to do with that. Instead, this is a plea for John Paddock to pluck a player out of the Columbus system. It is likely a pipe dream, but there's a chance.
The Memorial Cup is over and Taylor Hall's Windsor Spitfires won for the second straight year. I watched three games, all of them involving the Brandon Wheat Flyers prospect Jacob De Serres mans the crease for Brandon. Even after getting the first ever Memorial Cup shutout in Brandon history, De Serres isn't the player who most caught my attention., because
De Serres played extremely well in that game, there's no doubt about that. He received no support in the championship game, but still played well. Overall, he had a good tournament even if the stats tell you he didn't. But the player who caught my attention was Brandon Alternate Captain Matt Calvert. Who is Matt Calvert, why am I devoting a post to him, and why is it directed at Assistant General Manager John Paddock, you ask?
Jump to find out.
Matt Calvert is a native of Brandon, Manitoba. He just finished playing for his hometown team, even turning down an NHL contract for one last season in Brandon because they were hosting the Memorial Cup (and thus assured a berth). He was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 5th round (#127 overall) in 2008. The Flyers drafted De Serres in the 3rd round that year and didn't pick again until the 6th (Zac Rinaldo, #178 overall).
He was a huge performer for Brandon during the Memorial Cup, scoring 3 goals while adding an assist in 5 games. He scored a key goal to bring his team back to within one during the semi-final and the only goal in the Final. For this and many other reasons, he was named a Memorial Cup All-Star.
In January, SB Nation partner The Cannon interviewed Calvert. To read the full interview, click here.
Throughout his WHL career, Calvert has scored 230 points (99 goals) in 198 games. He's incredibly strong on the puck, and he's even scored 3 short-handed goals in one period during this year's playoffs. In that same article, he's described as "the team's most dependable and hardest working forward."
Who does that sound like? If you said Mike Richards, we're on the same page.
Great acceleration, great shot, great intelligence. His scouting profile on Hockey's Future describes him as having "extremely good hockey sense and is a very good leader. Very hard worker and willing to take a hit to make a play. Has good offensive instincts. An unselfish player who thinks the game really well." It will be hard to pry him away from Columbus, but this is a guy I suddenly want on the Flyers immediately.
He has even inspired a "History Will Be Made" parody video:
Obviously, this is extremely unlikely to happen. But if he were in the Flyers organization, Hockey's Future would have him tied for best forward prospect with Patrick Maroon. So why is there a chance the Flyers get him? Two reasons:
1) Hockey's Future currently ranks him as the third best left wing in Columbus' system. Who cares if Nikita Filatov is first. If Columbus' front office views him similarly, he could be plucked away from a team who has plenty of holes to fill.
2) Second, and most importantly, the Flyers have connections. The Flyers have traded with the Blue Jackets three times before, twice involving players. We traded them R.J. Umberger in 2008 and they traded us this past October. Paul Holmgren can work something out with Scott Howson.
Lastly, the biggest connection is Assistant General Manager John Paddock since he surely must know about Calvert. According to Wikipedia, Paddock was born an hour northeast of Brandon, Manitoba.
If that wasn't enough, Paddock played for the Wheat Kings from 1972 to 1974. Being from just outside of Brandon and then playing for them, he almost certainly watched his hometown team and alma mater host the Memorial Cup.
So here it is:
Based on your hometown and your first professional hockey team, you surely are a Brandon fan. As such, you surely know about Matt Calvert. I hereby request you make a strong offer to acquire this talented player.
He is exactly the type of player every NHL team needs. He scores, he plays defense, he works hard, he rejects an NHL contract to win a championship with his hometown team, and he's a leader in the locker room.
Since you are in charge of the Phantoms, you surely understand the need to improve that club. Matt Calvert can do that... until he is wearing the orange and black in Philadelphia.
Need a suggestion on how you can get him? A great place to start is trading Columbus Jon Matsumoto. The Blue Jackets have few centers. Antoine Vermette is their first line center, Umberger their second, and Samuel Pahlsson their shutdown center. Derick Brassard would then be their third/fourth line center. Needless to say, he isn't very good.
Maybe 36 points in 79 games is what they want out of Brassard, and maybe they can live with his minus-17 rating. But his 41.8 faceoff percentage and goals against per 60 minutes being 0.51 higher than his goals for tend to suggest he's pretty easily replaceable. Except Columbus doesn't have a center able to take over for him. That's where Jon Matsumoto comes in.
Matsumoto has led the Phantoms in scoring two straight years, but is never given a chance with the Flyers. With the depth the Flyers have at center (Richards, Carter, Briere, Giroux, Betts all signed for next year) and Matsumoto's contract expiring, it's unlikely we'll re-sign him. He's perfect. Obviously, he isn't enough (that whole unsigned bit is a drag) but he should be enough to get Columbus talking.
So please, Mr. Paddock, trade for Matt Calvert. You have the pieces.
Your Newest Scout