Shawn Matthias was acquired from the Maple Leafs on February 21st in a trade that has become more polarizing than it should have. The Avs gave up Colin Smith, who was having a down year in San Antonio and wasn’t in the org’s future plans, and a 4th round pick in this month’s amateur draft. The divisiveness comes from a few areas, some believe that the Avs shouldn’t try to acquire rental players at the deadline. Some believe mortgaging the future is a bad idea. Some believe giving up a prospect and a 4th rounder is overpayment for a bottom-6er.
No offense to Colin Smith here but his role in the trade was exclusively to open up a contract spot so Matthias could join the roster. I like draft picks as much as the next person but a 4th isn’t something a team should feel a dire need to hang on to. Whoever would be chosen this year at #101 would be joining the likes of Joachim Nermark, Mason Geertsen, Nick Magyar, Alexis Pepin and Andre Mironov as the latest shot in the dark in the beginning of the later draft rounds, other than Mason there’s no value there so not a bad idea to consider a trade that improves the club’s weak bottom-6.
Matthias joined the team vs the Sharks on 2/24 and immediately paid off with a goal. In fact he scored 6 goals in the 20 games he suited up for the Avs, also adding 5 assists. Pretty stout considering that he matched Andreas Martinsen, the guy he essentially forced out of the lineup, for points on the year in 35 fewer games. I’d say that’s an upgrade. Matthias also became a regular on the penalty kill, racking up an average of 1:34 per night.
MHH Survey Grade: 81.0 B-
Again a little low for me. Matthias scored at a rate 167% of his career average, generated 1.75 SOG/gm and ate up minutes on the PK that were going to less defensively skilled players and played a physical game while staying out of the penalty box. Note that he accomplished all this while wearing the accursed #18 sweater too. I can’t speak for the Avs staff but he played the role they acquired him to play and exceeded any rational expectations.
MHH Staff Grade: A-
I might be overcompensating here but it’s hard to find many faults with Matthias’ performance in the final 20 games. I have a gut feeling that Matthias was a player the Avs were interested in last summer at free agent time but Toronto’s strategy of overpayment and trading for assets dictated that they were the ones he signed with. We still have no idea how tight money will be on the Avs roster but there’s no way they won’t make a push to sign him. 6’5 230# forwards that can skate really well, score and kill penalties don’t grow on trees. Once the big dollar items go through, he is sure to get an offer.