Does Mike Matheson’s horrid 2018-19 season make him expendable or would the Florida Panthers be jumping the gun if they were to trade him so soon?
Taking part in 75 games this past season, Matheson recorded an underwhelming tally of 8G, 19A, for 27 points. His season largely consisted of poor defensive showings, with sprinkles of undisciplined play.
In the result of this play, Matheson was suspended for two games, where he would later reflect on what went down in the heat of the moment.
Despite cutting out the undisciplined play from the start of the season, Matheson failed to adjust defensively, experiencing a year full of defensive woes.
Take, for example, his Expected Goals Against and For figures. For those who don’t know, Expected Goals measures shots qualities, both for and against.
The higher your figure is for “against,” the more high-danger scoring chances and shots you’re giving up. Likewise, the higher your figure is for the reverse (for), the more high-danger chances and shots you’re creating.
According to Corsica, Matheson’s xGF and xGA in percentage form were 53.69% and 59.53%, respectively. Per 60 minutes, his figures (while on the ice) were 2.36 (xGF60) and 2.62 (xGA60).
So, what does this mean? This means that while on the ice, Matheson was giving up higher-quality scoring chances and shots to his opponents than he was creating for his team.
It also translates to him spending a good portion of time in his own zone, failing to limit the number of quality shots and chances he was giving up.
But back to the original question. Is Mike Matheson untradeable, and should the Panthers even consider trading him at this point?
My answer: he’s not “untradeable,” but the Panthers shouldn’t trade him for the sake of getting rid of him. The trade would have to make sense and considering Matheson’s recent contract extension (8 years, $39M) and form, his value is undoubtedly at its lowest.
Trading just Matheson alone wouldn’t be enough, nor would it draw enough back. Not too many teams would be willing to take on Matheson’s current contract, which means the Panthers would have to take on some of his salary in the event that a trade would go through.
If there was a trade that would make sense from the Panthers’ standpoint, they could add Matheson as one of a few pieces in a deal that would bring back something worthwhile.
But even after just one bad season, should the Panthers really jump the gun and give up on their former 2012 first-round selection?
Given the Panthers’ lack of depth on the blue line in the minors, finding an outright replacement internally would be impossible.
Sure, they could draft a defenseman with their 13th pick in the draft, but I’m almost certain that player (whoever it is) won’t step into the league at the age of eighteen next year.
Unless the Panthers are signing or acquiring a defenseman who can outright replace Matheson for the start of the 2019-20 season and beyond, trading him just wouldn’t be the smart thing to do at this current moment.
With Joel Quenneville now in charge with new assistants by his side, there will be a new defensive system put in place that should rejuvenate Matheson’s career and game.
I think it’s only fair to see what Matheson is capable of under Quenneville’s command before deciding whether we should give up on the 25-year-old.
With new systems implemented, as well as a potential new defense partner, Matheson could be back to his very best as soon as next season.