Montreal Canadiens 2023-24 Year-In-Review: Mike Matheson

Mike Matheson was the leading point-getter on the Canadiens' blueline during the 2023-24 season, but is there any reason to keep him around until the end of his contract?
Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson
Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Mike Matheson came over from the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2022 offseason in a trade for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling. The trade was a steal for Kent Hughes, who knew Matheson from being his agent before moving to the front office. From the beginning, the Montreal Canadiens were a comfortable fit for Matheson, notching a career-best 34 points in 48 games. He matched that mark with 34 points in his first 49 games this past season.

2023-24 Season Performance

Matheson was the third-leading point-getter on the Canadiens this season, falling behind Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. Matheson finished with 62 points in 82 games, his first time playing a full 82-game schedule and a big bounce back from just 48 in 2022-23. Matheson's best contribution was on the powerplay, with five goals and 23 assists.

Matheson's powerplay performance had issues, as many questioned his decision-making as the unit's quarterback. A common trend occurred with Matheson looking off his teammates on the flanks to fire shots that weren't as dangerous. The issue is evident with him having the second-worst shooting percentage on the team, tallying 187 shots and just 11 goals. Lane Hutson's arrival as more of a playmaker on the first unit could be the beginning of the end for Matheson's powerplay production.

Matheson didn't have the best defensive season, but the Canadiens overall struggles didn't help much. Hockey Reference's metrics say he had a career-worst corsi and expected goal marks, with a -13.3 corsi/60 and -7 expected goals differential. The numbers were considerably worse than his first Canadiens season, which could be bad news for his future with the team.

Mike Matheson's Future With The Canadiens

Matheson is signed through the 2025-26 season and has a modified no-trade clause, which allows him to submit an eight-team no-trade list. Matheson will be 32 when his contract ends, and he is interested in an extension with the Canadiens. The Canadiens have an influx of talent on the backend, so in two years it may be an issue of a spot in the lineup for Matheson more than the Canadiens wanting him.

There is no doubt they can use Matheson for his offensive abilities and solid defensive play, but there are incoming players who could bump him out of those roles. Lane Hutson will soon take Matheson's quarterback spot on the powerplay, The Canadiens also have nine defensemen under 26 entering this season, with David Reinbacher, Lane Hutson, and Logan Mailloux hoping to find a spot in the lineup. Justin Barron, Kaiden Guhle, and Arber Xhekaj already have a full-time role in the lineup, with Jayden Struble and Jordan Harris also getting time.

You can take nothing away from Matheson for the service he has given the Canadiens over his two seasons, and you'd love for them to find a way to make it work. However, there's a better chance that Matheson will be traded sometime in the next two years to receive some assets and make room for the young Canadiens' defensive core.