Drafted 23rd Overall by the Florida Panthers.
Michael Matheson has taken an interesting route to the NHL. The Pointe-Claire native was originally projected to be the first overall selection in the 2010 QMJHL draft, but instead told teams that he would be headed to the USHL and then the NCAA as he wanted to pursue his education. His talent was so high that Shawinigan still felt he was worth the risk of a 2nd round draft pick (27th overall). Matheson is currently playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, where he is a teammate of Zemgus Girgensons. Matheson is committed to the Boston College Eagles and is scheduled to join the National Champions this fall. Matheson was also a member of Team Canada’s gold medal winning 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament team. For more on Matheson’s background, we strongly recommend you read Mike Boone’s excellent story in the Montreal Gazette.
Born Feb 27 1994 — Pointe-Claire, PQ
Height 6.02 — Weight 175 – Shoots L
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Matheson is an excellent skater. His stride is extremely smooth, and very powerful. He has a great first step, and excellent acceleration which helps him reach top speed extremely quickly. He has excellent edgework, agility, and pivots. This sublime skating helps him in all aspects of his game.
Matheson’s primary skill is as a defensive defenceman. He has excellent instincts, and plays a solid positional game. Matheson angles attackers to the outside and forces them into non-dangerous areas of the ice. He keeps the front of the net clear, and is quick to pounce on loose pucks. Matheson is willing shot blocker and understands how to cut down passing lanes. Matheson is very good at winning puck battles, and while he isn’t regularly a big hitter, he understands how to pin an opponent on the boards and take him out of the play. Matheson’s strong skating and defensive play make him a very safe pick and a solid bet to be an NHLer. He does need to add some more muscle to his frame, however this is true of nearly all draft prospects.
Matheson’s offensive game is a work in progress, but has improved greatly over the course of this USHL season. His slapshot has decent velocity, but more importantly Matheson keeps his shots low and accurate. Matheson makes a great first pass in the defensive zone which greatly helps the Dubuque transition game. He has also shown a willingness to pick his spots and join the rush at key times. Matheson has also used his passing skills to make strong plays in the offensive zone. While Matheson is never going to possess the offensive skills of some of his fellow draft prospects, we do feel he can be a solid 2nd unit PP contributor in the NHL.
We would compare Matheson’s potential to be a smaller version of Marc Staal of the New York Rangers. We feel he’s a very safe pick to be at minimum a 3rd pairing NHL defender, but he also has a ceiling that if he develops will be more than that and could be as high as a #2 defender (first pairing guy) on a quality NHL team.
… and thats the Last Word.