The Panthers announced Monday what several outlets had been reporting since Ssaturday -- they’ve signed minute-munching defenseman Mike Matheson to an eight-year extension.
While the Panthers didn’t announce actual money figures, the deal’s expected to be in the $39 million range. Matheson’s in the last year of his first contract.
Even before Matheson’s 2016-17 rookie season, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon saw the 2012 first-round pick as a durable, do-it-all defenseman with performance wheels. With Aaron Ekblad on one defense pair and Matheson on another, the Panthers would spend most of the game with at least one high end skating, puckhandling on the ice.
Indeed, the Panthers used Matheson like a workhorse Mustang -- one used for school pickup Friday afternoon and the drag strip Friday night -- during his rookie season. He led defensemen in even-strength minutes and had the second most penalty killing minutes among all players. In 81 games, he scored seven goals, picked up 10 assists and had a minus 5 plus/minus rating, third best among those with more than 70 games played for the sub-.500 Panthers.
After three seasons at Boston College, Matheson ended the 2014-15 season with the Panthers’ American Hockey League minor league affiliate. He spent his first full professional season in the AHL with Portland.