The Winnipeg Jets first move over the free agency period was adding Shawn Matthias into the mix for the team’s bottom-six. Not only does Matthias become one of the Jets’ newest members, but he is signed with a two-year term making more than just a single season stop gap for the Jets prospects.
Let’s take a look at what Matthias brings to the table.
The biggest thing Matthias brings, aside from his 6’4 frame, is goal scoring.
Shawn Mathias just scores goals, and he does it very well at 5v5. He’s even more extreme case than the specialized goal scoring Drew Stafford. Matthias won’t tilt the ice to his teammates favour, his defensive game is lacking, and the team will get out shot without players insulating him, but he will put the puck in the net.
The Jets are a fairly average goal scoring team, and so the addition of players like Patrik Laine and Matthias should be greatly appreciated.
Matthias scoring proficiency
Matthias is extremely proficient at scoring relative to his icetime. Over the past five seasons combined, Matthias has scored at nearly a goal per sixty minute pace (0.97).
It’s not just from a one time inflated shooting percentage fluke either; ever since moving to the wing, Matthias has paced 0.88, 1.08, 0.81, and 0.98 goals per sixty minutes. To put this in perspective, the Jets top 5v5 goal scorers per sixty minutes of the last four seasons combined are Evander Kane (0.97), Blake Wheeler (0.87), Kyle Wellwood (0.78), Mark Scheifele (0.78), and Andrew Ladd (0.77).
While Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford may experience some negative regression next season, this should be countered by the addition of Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and Matthias, plus some positive regression from Mathieu Perreault and growth from Nikolaj Ehlers.
The big-bodied forward has some good speed and physicality to go with his size, which has translated into being an above average penalty killer. This adds another dimension to Matthias that fits well with the Jets needs. Over the past two seasons, Matthias has eaten short-handed minutes with the team’s share of shots and unblocked shots being higher with him on the ice than on the bench.
He also brings positional versatility with being able to play both at centre and wing. The past few seasons Matthias has played at wing, with much success, but he was originally considered a centre.
There are warts to the forward, which is why Matthias has never enjoyed a top-six role despite his scoring prowess. The player tends to bleed shots, and typically one should expect the team to be outshot with Matthias on the ice.
His lack of two-way game though limits the “power forward” from being anything beyond a complimentary winger. Complimentary wingers can be immensely useful, and they can be immensely hurtful. It depends on their usage. The Jets have experienced this already with complimentary wing Stafford.
Not everyone can do everything well, and so it is good to have specialists in the bottom part of the roster provided that the deploys the individual where the overall impact still is a positive.
Hopefully the Jets have and use the right pieces in the bottom-six to help make this work.