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2021-22 Season in Review: Mike Matheson

Matheson reached career highs in goals, assists, points and game-winners in the fourth season of his eight-year contract.

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four
Mike Matheson scores a goal during Game 4 of the 2022 Stanley Cup first round against the New York Rangers on May 9.
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Vitals

Player: Mike Matheson

Born: February 27, 1994 (28 years old)

Height: 6’ 2”

Weight: 188 pounds

Hometown: Pointe-Claire, Quebec

Shoots: Left

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.

Playoffs

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.

Monthly Splits

via Yahoo!

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.

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.

Hidden stat

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)

Charts n’at

The Penguins, with and without Matheson, courtesy of HockeyViz.

Look at the difference in the success of the Penguins’ offense to shoot from dangerous areas with Matheson on the ice (top left.)

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.

Highlights

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:

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:

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:

Bottom line

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.

Ideal 2022-23

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?

Poll

How would you grade Mike Matheson’s 2021-22 season?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    A
    (319 votes)
  • 44%
    B
    (271 votes)
  • 3%
    C
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (1 vote)
615 votes total Vote Now