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Mike Matheson: production reminiscent of Andrei Markov’s best years

When the Habs were first looking to trade Jeff Petry, we suspected they’d probably have to go for another “big” contract in return. After all, at $6.25 per year for three more seasons, Kent Hughes was going to have to work hard to trade a defenseman coming off a horrible season.

That said, Hughes was patient… and he found his window of opportunity: he traded Petry (and Ryan Poehling) to Pittsburgh for Mike Matheson and a draft pick who has since become Bogdan Konyushkov.

I get the impression that few Montreal fans wouldn’t do this deal again, let’s say.

But even if Konyushkov is an intriguing prospect, Matheson is undoubtedly the beautiful story of this transaction. The Montrealer has taken off in a Tricolore uniform, with 39 points in 55 games in the blue-white-red.

And this season, despite a more difficult first few games, he has already scored five points in seven games. A performance which, as Anthony Martineau (TVA Sports) notes, puts him on track for a 58-point season.

And that’s worthy of Andrei Markov’s best seasons in town, as he’s only reached that plateau twice in 16 seasons.

How to explain such a sudden blossoming for a guy who, let’s not forget, was more than enigmatic in Pittsburgh? In fact, the main man has already spoken about how playing in Montreal makes it all rather special for him, but he also revealed to Martineau that his two-year-old son is a big reason behind his recent success.

The bilingual Hudson put things into perspective for the CH defender. In the end, he’s less in his head and doesn’t put too much pressure on himself, which greatly reduces the nervousness in his game.

And when you see him play, you can really feel his confidence. He’s not a perfect defender, of course, but you can see quite clearly that his calmness allows him to keep things simple and build on this.

Well, that doesn’t stop him from having a few flights of fancy at times, but even when he does, he doesn’t try to do “too much”: he manages to create things without forcing the game, but rather by using his skills to play to the best of his ability.

I’m well aware that the Habs could get a lot of money if they were to trade Matheson, but I really think the club has a solid player on its hands and shouldn’t let him go. At 29, he’s still got some good years left in him, and his contract ($4.875 million a year for three years) is still more than worth it.

Add to that the fact that he loves playing in Montreal, and I simply don’t see the point of trading him in the next few months. There may be a surplus on the left, but Matheson is still far ahead of all the young left-handed defenders in the club.

He’s not exactly the same player Andrei Markov was, but strictly in terms of offensive production, the mere fact that Matheson is docking the General’s best years is noteworthy.

And just as some were (almost seriously) clamoring to see Markov back in town a year or two ago when he was over 40, I think that at 29, Matheson can look forward to many more years in the saddle in Montreal.

In gusto

– Speaking of Markov, the idea of honoring him in the company of the newly retired Tomas Plekanec is far from a bad idea.

– The Oilers really need it.

– Wow!

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