The Panthers announced on Monday that they’ve signed defenseman Mike Matheson to an 8-year contract extension, which will kick in at the start of the 2018-19 season.
The new deal will pay the 23-year old Matheson $39 million, a big increase over his entry-level deal that was set to expire and make him a restricted free-agent at the end of this season.
The contract is mostly backloaded, so he’ll see a pay raise from $3.5 million in each of the first three years to $5 million in year 4, $4 million in year 5, and $6.5 million in years 6, 7, and 8.
He’ll also have an 8-team modified no-trade clause in years 4 through 9, according to Cap Friendly.
“It’s exciting for our franchise,” said Dale Tallon on Monday morning at the Panthers’ Ice Den in Coral Springs. “We started at 2 years and went to 4, and went to 6, and he said ‘what about 8, I wanna be a Panther,’ so that was impressive.”
Matheson skated all but one game for the Panthers during the 2016-17 season as a rookie, posting 17 points and logging a team-leading average of 17:56 of even-strength ice time per game.
He finished with the team’s second-most shorthanded ice time per game at 2:35 as the Panthers finished second in the NHL in penalty kill percentage.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Matheson. “It came as a bit of a surprise but really honored to be able to be a part of the organization for such a long time. It’s pretty amazing to receive that kind of trust from the Panthers.”
“I think the team is headed in a great direction.”
The Panthers drafted Matheson with the 21st pick at the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh, and he joined the organization after a 3-year career at Boston College where he compiled 71 points and 112 games from the blue-line.
The smooth-skating, Montreal-native made his NHL debut on February 20th, 2016 against the Winnipeg Jets and suited up for five playoff games two months later, solidifying a spot on the Panthers’ roster.
He’s also played an important role at the international level for Team Canada, recording 13 points in 20 total games at the last two World Championship tournaments, earning him a gold medal and top defenseman honors in 2016 and a silver medal in 2017.
The Panthers have used Matheson very sparingly on the power play, averaging just 29 seconds of ice time per game over his career with the man advantage, although one would think a defenseman with his skating ability, puck skills, and smarts would eventually get more of an opportunity.
“He’s got a bright future, he skates forever, he’s gonna be a mainstay on our backend for a long time,” said Tallon of Matheson. “The fact that he wanted to be a Panther for life, that really was impressive for us. He’s going to play in every situation.”
The Panthers now have three of the seven defenseman on their active roster locked up through at least the 2022-23 season, and that’s in addition to the four forwards they have signed through 2020-21.