SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 23: Shawn Matthias #18 of the Florida Panthers and Jeff Petry #58 of the Edmonton Oilers battle for control of the puck on March 23, 2012 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
The young centerpiece of the Todd Bertuzzi trade in 2007, Shawn Matthias is number 17 on our list of the Top 25 Panthers Under 25. The Mississauga, Ontario finally cracked the NHL roster last season and looks to improve on his NHL career-best season.
Position: C/LW ▪ Shoots: Left
Height: 6-3 ▪ Weight: 212 lbs.
Born: February 19, 1988 (Age 24) in Mississauga, ON
Draft: Detroit, 2nd round (47th overall), 2006
Matthias began his junior career with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. A year after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, his rights were traded to Florida, along with conditional draft picks, for forward Todd Bertuzzi on February 27, 2007.
Matthias has represented Canada twice, first at the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships, where he played seven games for fourth-placed Canada, scoring a goal. His second appearance was the 2008 IIHF World U20 Championships, where he helped Canada win their fourth consecutive gold medal, notching three goals and four points in seven games.
That same year, Matthias made his NHL debut on January 18. The next day, he scored his first and second career goals against the Washington Capitals. The first came just 57 seconds into the second period, and followed up on the powerplay just five minutes later, both against goaltender Brent Johnson. He also competed with the Belleville Bulls in the 2008 Memorial Cup, where the Bulls were dominated in the semi-finals by former Panthers prospect Mike Duco and tournament host Kitchener Rangers, losing 9-0.
A career 0.85 point per game player in the OHL, Matthias struggled to produce with both the Rochester Americans and the Panthers. He spent 61 games with the Americans in 2008-09 scoring 10 goals, while producing only 2 assists in 16 games with Florida. The following season Matthias played 27 games with Rochester, scoring 13 points, though spent most of the year in the NHL. In 55 games with the Panthers, he scored 7 goals and 16 points. In the AHL playoffs, Matthias was third in Rochester scoring with 7 points in 7 playoff games in the Amerks' series against the Abbotsford Heat.
In the final season of his entry-level contract, Matthias stayed in the NHL, matching his point totals with 6 goals and 10 assists. Later signed to a two-year, two-way deal, he enjoyed his most successful season, missing only 3 games while recording 24 points (10G/14A) and played a far stronger physical game, earning 49 penalty minutes. In Florida's seven-game series against the New Jersey Devils, he collected an assist.
A decent face-off center with nice speed, Matthias isn't likely to play a top-six role. A career 0.29 point per game player in 205 NHL games, he finished as a 0.30 point per game player last season (0.31 PPG in the year before). He does have good size and showed a consistent willingness to drop the gloves in 2011-12, but it's doubtful he gets better than he already is.
While Matthias may not have the upside and talent of the players listed below him, he has proven to be a capable NHL forward, even if the role is a bottom-six grinder. Which is more than you can say about the players listed below him.