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Montreal Canadiens

Hughes Thrilled To Acquire Former Client Matheson



Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes has known better than any NHL general manager what he or they would be getting for newly acquired Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson. Hughes was Matheson’s player agent before he became the GM of the Montreal Canadiens and he’s watched Matheson grow as a player just as importantly, as a person.

“I’ve known Mike since his days in Midget AAA (with Lac St-Louis Lions). “He’s a first-class human being,” Hughes said of the Pointe-Claire native who was acquired, along with a 2023 fourth round pick from the Pittsburgh in exchange for defenceman Jeff Petry and centre Ryan Poehling on Saturday. “He’s the kind of guy you’d let marry your daughter, although he’s married with a young baby at this point in his life. He’s a terrific human being.”

He’s confident the human being and teammate that Mike Matheson, 25, has become since being drafted by the Florida Panthers with the 23rd overall pick at the 2012 NHL Draft will fit right into Hughes’ and Montreal Canadiens executive vice president Jeff Gorton’s rebuild plan going forward.

“I feel really comfortable that Mike is the kind of person in our locker room, at this point in his career, that can assist our young players, be it the draft picks like Juraj Slafkovsky or our young defensemen that are trying to make their way as regular NHL players,” Matheson’s former agent told reporters. “Mike is a five-star human being who can be of great assistance to our club.”

As Hughes told reporters, the trade that finally granted Petry’s trade request from last December, wasn’t going to happen without a defenceman coming back to the Montreal Canadiens or more specifically in this case, Matheson.

“In any trade that we were going to contemplate with Pittsburgh or any other team that involved Jeff Petry, one of the elements that had to either come in the trade or we had to be able to thereafter acquire was a defenseman,” Hughes pointed out off the get-go late on a sunny and hot Saturday summer afternoon. “Mike Matheson is a defenseman who was playing top-4 minutes in Pittsburgh that brings a lot of the qualities that we lose in a Jeff Petry in terms of his ability to transport the puck. Last season, Mike was in the 90th percentile for goals in the NHL at 5-on-5 per 60 minutes. He was 85th percentile in points. He scored five game-winning goals, and almost all of his offensive production came at even-strength.”

Now the Montreal Canadiens get a defenceman that found his game in a career year with 11 goals and 20 assists in 74 games last season and that could breakout even more under Martin St. Louis’ tutelage.

“Mike was a first-round pick by the Panthers, who had a good start to his pro career,” Hughes pointed out. “That’s why Florida signed him to an eight-year contract. He skates extraordinarily well. Given the way we play, we believe that he’ll be able to help us. Marty wants our defensemen to play on top of the opposing team, instead of just backing up all the time.

Like a lot of young players that sign long-term contracts worth a lot of money, sometimes the expectations increase. When Mike was traded to Pittsburgh, we saw him regain his form and improve. I can tell you that Pittsburgh absolutely didn’t want to trade him, but we insisted that he was the player we wanted.”




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