Matheson is signed through the 2025-26 season, but he’s hoping his time in Montreal lasts beyond that.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor to put on the Canadiens jersey,” he said. “I’d like to stay there until the end of my career. But at the same time, I’ve already been part of two trades. When you’ve already experienced the realities of being traded, you’re a little less scared of it. It’s no longer the unknown. I have the attitude where I have nothing to lose. I don’t know if I’m going to stay here for two, three or eight more years. But I just want to make the most of my time here. I just hope that it’ll be a long time.
“I haven’t talked to Kent about that possibility. I think the organization is happy with my game. But I also know that the front office sometimes has tough decisions to make. I have no control over a trade. It wouldn’t make sense to overthink it.”
The Canadiens have several young defensemen already making an impact, among them Kaiden Guhle, 22, and Jordan Harris, 23, as well as top defenseman prospects Lane Hutson, Logan Mailloux and David Reinbacher close to being NHL-ready. Matheson understands he could be used to add depth to another position ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline on March 8. He also, though, knows the Canadiens need solid veterans to help guide and develop those young prospects.
“He’s a star who works in the shadow, 100 percent,” Guhle said recently of Matheson. “He scores points, he defends against the other teams’ top lines, he plays on the power play and penalty kill. For those who haven’t noticed yet, he’s now making a name for himself as an elite [defenseman] in this League.”
Goalie Sam Montembeault agreed that Matheson should be considered among the top players at his position.
“Mike has all the qualities of a No. 1 defenseman,” he said. “He skates so well, he has incredible cardio and he’s a hard worker. I also like his qualities as a leader. After the game in Boston [a 9-4 loss Jan. 20], he’s the one who got up to speak to everyone. That was one of the first times he spoke up so loudly. But he picked the right moment to do it, after a 9-4 meltdown.”
When told of what his teammates said, Matheson paused before replying.
“I’m not going to describe myself as a star, but I’ll take the compliment,” he said. “I like that there are some people who might think that I’m underrated.”
Matheson is averaging 25:18 of ice time per game, the most of his nine NHL seasons, showing coach Martin St. Louis believes in him.
“If I had played for the Canadiens at 20, I don’t know if I would’ve been strong enough to play like I do these days,” Matheson said. “At a younger age, I probably wouldn’t have handled the situation well. I’m older now, I’m a dad, and I have a different perspective on life. I’m not on Instagram or Twitter all the time. I don’t have those apps on my phone. I don’t look at that because I know it could upset me. I’ve eliminated that from my life. When I started in Montreal, I realized that I didn’t really have a lot to lose, in a sense. I couldn’t fall any further than I had during my last season in Florida.
“I’m just happy to play with the Canadiens. I always think back to that little kid who would’ve given absolutely everything to get his chance to play for the Canadiens. I just want to make that little kid in me proud, by playing hard and playing good hockey.”