With the 23rd pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Florida Panthers select, Mike Matheson, defensemen. And just like that, the Florida Panthers have selected yet another defender who they hope can be a huge part of their future for years to come. Matheson was born in the same exact year as me, 1994, and I’m now only going into college, while he will be looking to make his mark in the ranks of professional hockey.
The 18 year old defender is certainly no stranger to trying to make a name for himself. In 2009, Matheson was a part of the Lac Saint-Louis Lions midget AAA team in Quebec. Matheson played a total of 30 regular season games. In this short time he was able to contribute to the offense, as he scored five goals and recorded six assist. It wasn’t until the Lions made the playoffs that year when Mike showed many different hockey scouts what he can do. In a total of 17 playoff games, he scored six goals and had seven assist.
After his first year spent with the Lions, everyone was beginning to tell that Matheson is for real. He returned the next season where he would not only be a team captain, but he also led all defenders on the team with 14 goals and 24 assist. His game was continuously progressing as he was able to help lead the Lions to a berth in the Telus Cup, which is Canada’s AAA midget championship). The Lions were booted in the second round of the Quebec tournament, losing to Vancouver North West. Despite the loss, Matheson had something he could cherish from the tournament. That thing he can cherish was the fact that he was named the tournament’s top defender, as he finished off with three goals and five assist. After a stellar season in Quebec, Matheson decided it was time to take his talents elsewhere as he committed to playing hockey in America with the Boston College Eagles for the 2012-2013 season.
But before he became an Eagle, Matheson decided that he decided to join the junior hockey circuit, skating for the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints. The season with the Saints was a tough one on Matheson. Throughout the first half of the season he was plagued by injuries, however after returning fully healthy, he went onto be the leading scorer amongst defensemen, scoring 27 points in a total of 53 games. Dubuque was unable to do anything in the playoffs. The Fighting Saints were no longer fighting as they were swept by Indiana in the first round.
Matheson decided to go to college in route of someday playing on a NHL team in order to continue growing in the best possible situation for him.
When asked about how he felt on his draft status he said this “I’m just going to try and enjoy the experience, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.” He then also went onto say, “It would be great to be able to go in the first round, but it is a very deep defensemen class. If it does happen that would be great, because it’s a huge honor to be with the type of players being drafted this year. But at the end of the day it’s just a draft, and it doesn’t mean you’re any more or any less of a player.”
I believe that the Panthers got a good one with Mike Matheson. He is a tremendous skater and possesses an extraordinary shot for a defenseman. His offensive ability is clearly there, however there is still work
to be done with Matheson. Just because he was a first round pick doesn’t mean he is going to come in right away and start, like in other sports. Matheson will continue to grow into the player that the Panthers want him to be. If Florida does not rush Matheson and treats him right in his developmental process, the Panthers can potentially have a tremendous defender for years to come.
At a young age of 18, Matheson has the confidence that he can play in the NHL. He believes that he has all the right tools to be successful here in the NHL and for the sake of the Panthers, let’s all hope so!
So with that being said congratulations to Mike Matheson on joining the Florida Panthers organization. We all wish you the best and hope to see you in a Panthers uniform soon.
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