As Winnipeg continues to work toward a playoff push (and keep that winning record over .500), they may have to make a couple of transactions come Feb. 28.
Some names that come to mind around the trade deadline include Ondrej Pavelec, Drew Stafford and, possibly, Shawn Matthias. There are many teams that could be in the market for the 29-year-old centre.
Why He’s Expendable
The 6-foot-4, 231-pound forward has tremendous size and brings physicality each night he plays. He has seven goals and 12 points this season and does a fine job of rounding out the bottom-six. With a player like him rounding out the lineup, you get a cheap player who plays a solid two-way game and can backcheck with aplomb.
Not to mention, Matthias has scoring potential and is a known leader on his team. He’s a veteran who’s been in the league for a while and can serve as a role model on and off the ice. When it comes to building team morale, he is the type of player you want in your locker room.
Additionally, Matthias takes good care of the puck and rarely gives it away. He doesn’t turn the puck over, and that allows him the opportunity to spend more time starting the rush into the offensive zone. Not only that, but his long reach allows him to win battles in the corner.
Overall, he would be a low-risk acquisition for any team. He doesn’t have to be protected come the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and carries a cheap salary. If it doesn’t work out, the team doesn’t have to put in too much work to hold onto him.
The Minnesota Wild could be a possible team looking at someone like Matthias. Behind Eric Staal, there isn’t much depth when it comes to their centres and Matthias could fill out the bottom-six nicely for them. He adds size, speed and ability, and if were to shoot the puck more, he could help the team out offensively.
Montreal and Philadelphia could be possible destinations for Matthias. The Canadiens could be looking to ship out Tomas Plekanec, and if they do, they’ll need more centre depth to replace him. And with the Flyers struggling to score, Matthias could be brought in to solidify that need for scoring, and it is quite possible he could help the team out.
The Jets aren’t getting a big return. It’ll either be an eye-for-an-eye swap, where they get another bottom-six forward in return, or they could get picks and prospects. Matthias is a solid forward, but he is not someone who carries a heavy price tag. In fact, the team could even swap him for an AHL-calibre forward.
This trade deadline isn’t going to be a big one for Winnipeg, and they won’t be warranting huge returns, either. I expect one of the Jets’ goaltenders to be on the move (Pavelec likely), as well as Drew Stafford and another small piece.