Florida Panthers: Michael Matheson’s 2017-18 Season Recap

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 7: Michael Matheson #19 of the Florida Panthers skates for the puck against the Winnipeg Jets at the BB&T Center on December 7, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 7: Michael Matheson #19 of the Florida Panthers skates for the puck against the Winnipeg Jets at the BB&T Center on December 7, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Following a successful 2016-17 campaign for the Florida Panthers, GM Dale Tallon rightfully rewarded promising offensive-defenseman Michael Matheson with a long-term contract extension.

Tallon convinced Michael into signing a lucrative 8-year deal worth $4.875 million annually. Michael Matheson wound up experiencing greater success in the following season, becoming a more dependable, well-rounded/complete defenseman, ultimately establishing himself as a steady top 4 defender.

Matheson was scratched once during the 2017-18 season because of occasional defensive lapses; however, despite this little road block, Matheson improved defensively in a significant manner. Mike utilized an aggressive approach, incorporating speed and quickness, as means of effectively battling against opposing forwards. Matheson was brilliant regarding tracking down forwards, considering Michael’s notable strengths were skating and agility/mobility.

Furthermore, Matheson noticeably improved his shot-blocking ability, registering a career-high 137 blocked shots on the year. Mike proved entirely capable of embracing a more defensive-defenseman role, hence contributing towards providing much-needed defensive stability on the back end. Additionally, Matheson averaged a career-high 21:20 ATOI, thus indicating how Matheson was essentially irreplaceable and highly valuable on the blue line.

On countless occasions, Michael Matheson was seen remaining on the ice following the conclusion of a particular regular season game, hence clearly conveying how incredibly committed Mike was towards improving himself as a pro-hockey player. Often-times, once a professional athlete becomes rewarded with a lucrative contract, they suddenly begin working more carelessly and less frequently. Although, Matheson employed a completely different approach, working tirelessly and consistently towards becoming a polished, incredibly productive pro-hockey player.

the Quebec native also improved offensively, registering career-high numbers, regarding practically all offensive categories, across the board. While participating in 81 regular season contests, Mike posted an utterly impressive slash line of 10G, 17A, and 27 points, a 10 point improvement from a year ago.

Moreover, Matheson increased his shooting percentage by 2.1% (3.9% in 2016-17 to 6% in 2017-18). Mike’s shooting accuracy/precision improved as well, as Michael established himself as an effective offensive-defenseman in today’s fast-paced, up-tempo NHL.

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Essentially, Mike Matheson has clearly proven himself entirely worthy of attaining substantial minutes on a game-by-game basis. Bob Boughner will undoubtedly depend on the reliable services of  Matheson more frequently, especially when seeing the notable strides taken by the Canadian-born defenseman on a yearly basis.

Boughner could potentially utilize Matheson on the Panthers’ top PP unit, as Michael accumulated 1G, 3A, and 4 points when provided with power play time throughout the course of the 2017-18 eventful campaign. Perhaps enlarging Michael’s overall role on the team could possibly evoke continuous growth and vast improvements in the youngster’s game.

Mike’s durability, missing solely 2 regular season games over the previous 2 regular seasons, makes Michael incredibly valuable and an essential asset. Florida was essentially inches away from clinching a playoff berth in the 2017-18 season. If Mike Matheson didn’t flourish into an incredibly dependable two-way defenseman, Florida wouldn’t have approached nor sniffed the 96 point total they recorded during the 2018 season.

The overlooked, underappreciated red-haired d-man’s success simply becomes overshadowed by big-name, popular names such as Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle. However, Matheson’s presence is as crucial as the presence of Ekblad and Yandle, as well. Mike provides highly necessary stability for our core of d-men.

Whenever a mistake becomes perpetrated or committed by Matheson’s partner (paired with various d-men throughout the season), Michael typically acts as the security blanket, providing ultimate protection, as well as insuring zero harm results from a dumb-minded error.

Matheson superb backchecking, stickchecking, physicality, skating, and awareness are critical components of Matheson’s game, in which Michael has developed since entering the league as a highly touted, somewhat flawed prospect in the 2015-16 season (FLA’s most successful regular season in franchise history).

Next: Aleksander Barkov’s 2017-18 Season Recap

In the upcoming 2018-19 season, Michael Matheson will indubitably contribute towards providing FLA with an excellent chance of earning a playoff berth. With the gradual progression seen from Mike, the 2019 season could potentially result in a potential all-star selection for the determined, insanely talented defenseman.