Player: Mike Matheson
Born: February 27, 1994 (28 years old)
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 188 pounds
Hometown: Pointe-Claire, Quebec
Draft: 2012 NHL Draft, 1st Round (23rd overall) by the Florida Panthers
2021-22 Statistics: 74 games played — 11 goals, 20 assists, 31 points (all career highs!) and 33 penalty minutes
Contract Status: Matheson just finished the fourth season of an eight-year contract (signed by the Florida Panthers in 2017.) He is signed on through 2025-26 at $4.875 million per, with an eight-team no-trade clause.
Fun facts: Matheson is one of just six NHL defenseman to score at least five game-winning goals this season. The other five: Cale Makar (COL), Justin Faulk (STL), Victor Hedman (TBL), Charlie McAvoy (BOS) and Shea Theodore (VGK). Not bad company!
History: This is Matheson’s second season as a Pittsburgh Penguin. In 2020-21, Penguins fans granted him a B rating.
Matheson contributed one goal (the first playoff tally of his career!) and five assists in six games, while averaging over 25 minutes per contest, during the Penguins’ seven-game first-round loss to the New York Rangers in 2022. Because of Brian Dumoulin’s injury, Matheson spent the majority of his postseason skating alongside Kris Letang in a somewhat chaotic, high-offense pairing which involved multiple unfortunate goals bouncing in off of Matheson’s skate.
Story of the season
Mike Matheson arguably played some of the best hockey of his career in 2021-22.
For a stretch, especially in the early spring, he served as one of the Penguins’ most reliable defensemen as well as an offensive threat. This held true even immediately after his return from a week-to-week injury.
He's back everybody.— NHL (@NHL) March 12, 2022
Mike Matheson wastes no time getting on the board upon his return to the lineup. pic.twitter.com/jcF2os2Do0
His decision-making on aggressive pinches, however, sometimes puts the Penguins into tricky positions. As a wise man once said, offensive-minded defensemen giveth, and they taketh away.
Only three Penguins (Chad Ruhwedel, Kris Letang and Mike Matheson) scored more goals than expected this regular season, according to Money Puck. Money Puck afforded Matheson 7.1 expected goals. He bucked expectations and scored 11.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of seven defensemen on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 53.68% (1st)
Goals For%: 55.65% (3rd)
xGF%: 54.15% (4th)
Scoring Chance %: 55.46% (1st)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 54.12% (4th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 8.74% (1st)
On-ice save%: 92.15% (4th)
Goals/60: 0.52 (1st)
Assist/60: 0.81 (3rd)
Points/60: 1.33 (2nd)
Look at the difference in the success of the Penguins’ offense to shoot from dangerous areas with Matheson on the ice (top left.)
Yeah. The offense is great. We've talked about it all year.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) March 14, 2022
But have you seen those zone entry DENIALS for Mike Matheson? This man is out here playing defense. This is ridiculous at both ends of the ice and I don't blame Mike Sullivan for finding him more TOI. @ShutdownLine pic.twitter.com/9C1I1UOcUL
As The Athletic’s Jesse Marshall pointed out, Matheson wasn’t just driving offense this spring, but also stifling attempted rushes by opponents.
This chart, from February 26, shows how Matheson found himself in top percentiles among NHL defenseman in goals per 60 and finishing.
A wraparound stunner against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs during the fifth game of the season, which stood of the decider of a 7-1 win on October 23:
This wraparound goal from Mike Matheson MUST BE DISCUSSED.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 24, 2021
Contribute your thoughts below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/874wF18a9M
An 100-foot pass onto Kasperi Kapanen’s tape as the Penguins claimed a 5-3 victory in Las Vegas on January 17:
An ankle-breaking deke on Pavel Zacha as the Penguins dispatched the Devils in New Jersey, 4-2, on February 13:
Somebody check on Pavel Zacha. Mike Matheson sent him straight into the spin cycle. pic.twitter.com/EaUB9Dsvhu— Danny Shirey (@DannyShireyPGH) February 13, 2022
And a four-point performance in Game 4, back when Sidney Crosby’s head had not yet been introduced to Jacob Trouba’s elbow and Louis “Spicy Pork and Broccoli” Domingue t-shirts were selling fast, on May 9:
Three assists in Game 3 and a goal (and counting) in Game 4.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 10, 2022
Mike Matheson is feeling it in Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/JWYXeOAD20
You’ve seen the highlights, and you've seen the lowlights. Matheson can skate, and he can shoot, but his positioning in front of the net has caused screening problems for Penguins goaltenders. His long-term contract makes him one of just three players (including John Marino and Bryan Rust) to be signed through 2025-26.
Throughout the last regular season at 5v5, Matheson skated mostly alongside Chad Ruhwedel, but also saw significant ice time beside John Marino, and Kris Letang when Brian Dumoulin was injured.
Who would you like to see Matheson skating alongside in 2022-23? If Letang is re-signed, would you like to see the return of the Matheson/Letang pair?
How would you grade Mike Matheson’s 2021-22 season?
This poll is closed