Florida Panthers: the highly anticipated improvement in Michael Matheson’s Game

WINNIPEG, MB - DECEMBER 15: Michael Matheson
WINNIPEG, MB - DECEMBER 15: Michael Matheson /

Entering his 3rd season as a member of the Florida Panthers , the Cats will heavily depend on the smooth skating Michael Matheson to flourish.

Michael Matheson is a highly touted defensive standout for the Florida Panthers. He’s accomplished a variety of impressive achievements throughout his young, promising hockey career. After the conclusion of the IIHF tournament, Matheson stood out above everyone en route to receiving the prestigious honor of being named the top defenseman for Team Canada . He recorded 2G, 4A and 6 points in 10 games played for his nation.

Matheson displayed his offensive talents playing against difficult competition and proved his worth. Canada won the tournament as a result and Michael was widely recognized leading into his first full season as a Panther.

The fans and organization had high expectations for the potential star defensemen especially after his dazzling performance during the 2015-16 playoffs. Although he played in simply 5 playoff contests, he showcased his poise and composure and contributed offensively with an assist while stabilizing the blue line defending the New York Islanders incredibly skilled forwards. His unexpected emergence prompted the Panthers to provide Matheson with a greater opportunity during the 2016-17 campaign.

Although the Cats struggled tremendously on defense, Michael Matheson has demonstrated that he was more than capable of playing significant minutes on a nightly basis. He contributed 7G and 10A combining for 17 points in 81 games. He did experience his fair share of struggles defensively like most Panthers defensemen.

However, he didn’t allow his occasional defensive lapses to affect his offensive game. He produced a large amount of scoring chances with his smooth skating ability, accurate passing and efficient shooting percentage of 3.9% (higher than Keith Yandle’s ).

Matheson was a reliable d-man for the Cats as he produced an impactful 118 blocked shots and powerful 69 hits in while playing an average of 21:03 minutes per game. Michael is an integral piece of the Panthers’ promising future as the Cats hope he’ll propel them to continuous success and a greater amount of playoff appearances.

Although, this past season showed that Matheson can be a productive player on both ends of the ice which is an encouraging sign for the Florida Panthers and rookie head coach Bob Boughner . Many were surprised by Matheson’s rapid development and he’ll look to continue making positive strides in the foreseeable future for the Cats.

Boughner will certainly have a positive impact on his overall game as he’ll help Michael become a more disciplined and efficient two-way defenseman on a nightly basis. Matheson saw great success when paired with superstar d-man Aaron Ekblad throughout the course of the 2015-16 playoffs versus a high scoring Islanders club. Michael rarely had the opportunity to play alongside Aaron, as Ekblad experienced a number of unfortunate injuries preventing himself from playing in 14 games.

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Perhaps this new coaching staff will revolutionize our defensive style with their new and improved game plan. Bob will surely influence Matheson with his hopefully effective system that he’ll be implementing this upcoming season.

The former 23rd overall pick in the 2012 entry draft is progressively showing constant improvement as he recently participated in the 2017 IIHF World Championship as a member of Team Canada. Despite Canada’s shocking silver medal achievement, Matheson still produced 1G and 6A for a total of 7 points in 10 games. Michael was purely dominant on the biggest stage for the 2nd consecutive year playing with top competition.

He’s hoping his success can continue to translate to the big league level as the Cats are searching for their 2nd playoff berth in 3 seasons, after clinching a division title in the infamous, franchise-best 2015-16 season.

The experienced, re-energized Matheson won’t have any limitations entering the 2018 season as Boughner is expected to elevate his style of play, while enabling Matheson to inherit a more prominent role.