After being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer in the Jeff Petry trade, Mike Matheson’s tenure with the Montreal Canadiens didn’t start the way he wanted it to, but since returning from a string of injuries in January, the defenceman has been full value for his hometown team.
He’s quickly established himself as a leader and a key piece for the Habs going forward not only because of the way he plays but also because of the way he carries himself and the example he sets for his teammates.
Still Getting Better
Matheson hasn’t just been good for the Canadiens, he’s managed to take his game to a whole new level in a short time. Despite playing on a young, decimated roster, the 29-year-old is thriving and exceeding the expectations of many. He played well for the Penguins, especially last season and he’s been even better during his first 36 games with Montreal. During that span, he’s put up seven goals and 23 points. That’s a scoring pace of more than 50 points over a full 82-game schedule which would impressively surpass his previous career-high of 31 points with Pittsburgh in 2021-22.
Matheson is the definition of a modern-day defenceman and epitomizes the way that head coach Martin St. Louis wants the Canadiens to play. He’s one of the best skaters in the league and is naturally aggressive in all three zones and in today’s NHL, speed kills. The result is that he can dictate the pace of the game and drive Montreal’s highly effective transition game. His skating ability creates scoring opportunities and allows him to correct mistakes in the defensive end.
He’s also helped stabilize the power play, providing the man advantage with a viable threat from the point since he can get his shot through to the net efficiently and because he can find his teammates in the right areas with his passing. Matheson has also been playing a ton of minutes in all situations lately to compensate for all the injuries on the Habs’ backend.
He’s a Keeper
Much has been made of the Kirby Dach trade that Kent Hughes pulled off during last summer’s NHL draft and with good reason, but his acquisition of Matheson in exchange for an older Petry who wanted out of Montreal anyway was another stroke of genius by the Canadiens’ general manager.
Related: Canadiens’ Dvorak Injury Exposes his Trade Value
He’s the kind of young veteran the franchise needs at this stage of their rebuild….
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Hockey Writers…