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Matthias Wants Full-Time Job With Panthers

Thursday, 08.7.2008 / 11:33 AM ET / Features
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Matthias Wants Full-Time Job With Panthers
After seeing what the NHL was all about last season, Panthers prospect Shawn Matthias wants to return to Florida with a full-time gig. And he\'s prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

In his second NHL game with the Florida Panthers, Shawn Matthias scored two goals and was named the third star of the game.
Matthias 2007-08 highlights
Now that Shawn Matthias has gotten a taste of the good life with the Florida Panthers, he's determined to return on a full-time basis this season.

In just his second of four NHL games with Florida last season, Matthias, a center, scored a pair of goals while earning 25 shifts on a line with then-Florida captain Olli Jokinen. Despite the fact his team suffered a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, Matthias made an impression and was named third star of the game.

Now, the 20-year-old Matthias, who played a part in Team Canada's gold-medal winning performance at the 2008 World Junior Championships with three goals and one assist, is prepared to do whatever it takes to earn a spot with the big club.

"Just having the chance to play, meet the guys and talk to them, was outstanding (last season)," Matthias told NHL.com. "It was a great experience to see what the NHL was all about and now that I know what to expect, I'll prepare for it. I'll work hard at training camp because I know how fun it is to be an NHL hockey player. Even though I only spent a week with the team, it was the best time of my life. I really want to try to make the team and stick with them the whole year right out of camp."

Matthias, drafted in 2006 by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round (No. 47), was acquired by Florida, along with two conditional draft picks, for forward Todd Bertuzzi on Feb. 27, 2007.

"Being such a young guy, I didn't know what to think of (the trade) at first," Matthias said. "I wasn't really sure if it was a good or bad thing, but Florida welcomed me with open arms and it's been absolutely great to be a part of this organization. So, I think it's worked out for the best."

Matthias is coming off two productive seasons with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. After posting a modest 13 goals and 34 points in 67 games during his second season with the club, Matthias scored 38 goals and 73 points through 64 games in 2006-07. He followed with a career-high 79 points, including 32 goals, in 53 appearances this past season before earning his cup of coffee with Florida.

"I started working out in private gyms, strictly for hockey," Matthias said. "I got into much better shape and began working a lot with the coaches at Belleville. (Coach) George Burnett and (assistant) Jake Grimes did a great job in my four years with the team. Jake showed me all the tricks on how to become a better player and better offensive threat."

Grimes, who was drafted and signed by the Ottawa Senators in 1992, is no stranger to training future NHL prospects. In two seasons as coach of Ontario's Strathroy Rockets Jr. B team, he worked with current Philadelphia Flyers center Jeff Carter. Carter would embark on a successful OHL career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds before beginning a successful NHL career with the Flyers.

"(Grimes) was a former forward for Belleville (from 1989 to 1992) and was drafted so I listened to every word," Matthias said. "He just showed me how to use my big body by driving to the net and cutting into the lanes to get opportunities. I'll be working with him again in preparation for camp. He knows what it's like to be a pro."

Matthias has also become an effective defensive forward, taking great pride in keeping opposing players off the scoreboard. After finishing a minus-9 in 2005-06 in Belleville, he concluded 2006-07 at plus-11 before capping the 2007-08 season a plus-21.

"You want to be a plus player to show that you're not being scored on," Matthias said. "Early on, I was a second-tier player matched up against top guys on the other team and I just didn't have the numbers against them. But I've become a plus player on the top line the last two seasons. I enjoy going up against the top players because it obviously brings out the best in you. Even though it makes the game a little bit harder, it will help you become a better player in the long run."

We feel Shawn will make an impact in Florida in the near future. He's been very successful in junior hockey and is now ready to take the next step to professional hockey. He is a high-character individual who fits perfectly into what we look for in a Panthers' player. - Florida Panthers GM, Jacques Martin
Florida General Manager Jacques Martin, who signed Matthias to an entry-level contract in 2007, realizes the potential in the Mississauga, Ontario, native.

"We feel Shawn will make an impact in Florida in the near future," Martin said after signing Matthias to his first professional contract. "He's been very successful in junior hockey and is now ready to take the next step to professional hockey. He is a high-character individual who fits perfectly into what we look for in a Panthers' player."

In addition to his success at center, Matthias can also alternate on either wing.

"I played wing a lot at Belleville and received plenty of help in learning the position," Matthias said. "It's obviously a new element and it's just a matter of getting comfortable. It definitely helped broaden my game, because by playing wing, I learned how to make those quick adjustments by getting the puck off the boards. Being able to retrieve the puck from the defenseman and chip it out or make a play at center ice are all critical to playing wing. Playing the position is something I still need to work at, but feel I'm learning more every day."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer




1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48


J. Huberdeau 72 13 34 8 47
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 74 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 70 13 26 -3 39
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 74 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 65 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 64 14 17 -2 31
B. Campbell 75 3 21 2 24
B. Pirri 42 20 2 5 22
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
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