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Bottom Six Minutes: Mike Matheson joins elite Habs company

Mar 21, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson (8) handles the puck against the Vancouver Canucks in the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

With a chance to play spoiler to the New York Islanders on Thursday night, the Montreal Canadiens sure gave it a run. Despite being out-possessed rather soundly, the Habs managed to drag the Isles into an overtime period they arguably didn’t deserve to see. A loss there helped the Islanders in their quest to make the playoffs, and helped the Habs to not jump over the Coyotes in the lottery standings. A win-win, in some ways.

And through the loss, Mike Matheson joined a pretty exclusive club among Canadiens defencemen.

Earning his 50th assist of the year on Caufield’s marker, Matheson has now reached the 60-point plateau, a mark that not many at his position have seen in Montreal. The legendary Larry Robinson did it seven times, Chris Chelios and Guy Lapointe did it three times, and a handful of former players have reached the mark just once. The last Habs defender to do so was P.K. Subban, way back in the 2014-15 season. It isn’t something the organization sees all that often

He’s quietly put together quite the season, a runaway for his best in the NHL. It has come with little fanfare thanks to the Canadiens competing for lottery position for most of the season, but he sits inside the top-10 for scoring among the league’s defencemen. What this means for his future, only time will tell.

We know the Canadiens need to move one or more defenders, possibly as early as this offseason. If Matheson is on the block, his production likely makes offers for his services quite tantalizing. Conversely, since production like that is something the organization should know isn’t easy to come by, he might push them to look at moving some other veteran defenders instead, keeping him around to mentor some young offensive-minded defencemen like Lane Hutson.

The preferable option seems like keeping him at this stage. While he is prone to some defensive lapses, this kind of production doesn’t grow on trees. Unless an undeniable offer comes through before next season, he’d get a chance to try and replicate this season’s performance on a Habs team that should look considerably better.

Who knows, maybe he can join an even more elite club of Habs defenders to reach 60-points multiple times.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you typically get your podcasts. We’ll be back Saturday night, when the Canadiens will complete their season series with the Ottawa Senators in the nation’s capital.

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