Could Mike Matheson Be The Odd Man Out, With Short Lived Homecoming?

Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Mike Matheson and the Montreal Canadiens were a match made in heaven, the Quebec native finally got the opportunity to play for his hometown team.

Matheson has performed quite well, easing the loss of Jeff Petry, with a certain cool poise about himself. When he gets the puck, you can hear the noise in the crowd, and feel the faithful ready to explode if Matheson finds a way to display his all-world skating. He scarcely explodes through the neutral zone with the puck, but that isn’t a great measuring stick for him.

Matheson’s speed and edges make him a nightmare to defend against, especially in overtime or during the powerplay. He shifts his weight, and in a few strides he can catch opponents or spin around them. To put it into perspective, Matheson has increased his value significantly during his Canadiens tenure. 

Because of that he has appeared quite high on TSN’s recent trade bait lists. He is expected to draw interest from a lot of general managers and to be honest, his annual cap hit is very reasonable and attractive. He has to be one of the most highly coveted trade pieces in Montreal, and the growth of the Canadiens' left side of their defence could ease the impact of Matheson’s departure.

His value is at an all-time high, and he provides an offensive play creator whichever team acquires him. Although the Canadiens' power play isn’t dynamic, Matheson has proven that he can quarterback a man-advantage brigade. And defensively he plays well enough, to serve himself well while using his skating to keep pace with opponents.

Has Matheson Become Expandable? 

With Matheson’s value at a high, the Canadiens' strength on the blue line poses a great opportunity for Kent Hughes to pounce. An advantage for the Habs is their strength in depth, from putting together an enviable group of young defensemen. With Arber Xhekaj down in Laval and Jordan Harris still injured, the Canadiens would be able to take the loss of Matheson in stride. 

Kaiden Guhle could undoubtedly play top pair minutes, and I believe he has the potential to run the Habs' number-one powerplay. Although I don’t believe he will have to do that for very long, simply because Lane Hutson is on his way, he is more than capable of doing it while Hutson climbs the ladder. Throw Jayden Struble into the mix, along with Adam Engstrom and William Trudeau developing still and the Canadiens could stand to benefit from making a deal using their strength. 

Up front the Canadiens have lost big pieces to injury, and the offense has predictably sputtered. Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook are part of the Canadiens' plans for the future, and whatever the team does now to prepare for next year when the entire roster is healthy, will pay huge dividends. And that is precisely why a trade to acquire either an additional first in 2024 and/or 2025 or offensive help makes sense. 

Matheson isn’t exactly old, but with 30 approaching, it would be a huge sign of respect to move him to a contender. Hughes deals like a stockbroker, with a certain gentlemanly flare, and Matheson just feels like he fits in the wheelhouse for a trade. Moving him soon, so he can help a playoff team push for a Stanley Cup berth could be the best way to manage the asset while the value is at an all-time high. 

The TSN trade bait list doesn’t always equate to a sure bet trade, but it’s generally quite accurate. Which could play into Hughes's hands. We love you Matheson, and that’s why you deserve to go and try to win the holy grail of hockey - The Stanley Cup.