1. Mike Matheson
The Florida Panthers will enter the new league year in a similar financial situation as the Kings, with approximately $20.9M available to spend. The difference is that Joel Quenneville’s club will look to re-sign all three of Mike Hoffman, Evgeni Dadonov, and Erik Haula, who are set to become unrestricted free agents and will receive hefty paydays.
The Panthers also have a boatload of players who are unrestricted free agents, and while their projected bridge deals don’t add up to much individually, they do as a whole. And such, they could look to trade away a hefty contract that’s bogging down the books.
Enter Michael Matheson.
The 26-year-old was the franchise’s 23rd overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. This past year, he scored eight goals with 12 assists for 20 points in a 59-game sample. He’s primarily been part of the team’s top-four pairings throughout his career, seeing the most time paired with Anton Stralman on the team’s second pairing. He also spent a considerable amount of time on the first pairing with Aaron Eklbad.
Matheson isn’t flashy by any means, but he’s the definition of a steady player. During the 2019-2020 campaign, he logged a 1.5 and 1.7 OPS and DPS, respectively. He’s under contract through the 2025-2026 campaign at a $4.9M AAV. His claim to fame – for lack of a better phrase – was the vicious hit he put on Elias Pettersson in October 2018.
If the Panthers can get the Kings to take on all of Matheson’s contract, I’d be willing to bet that some draft capital would come over in the deal as well, given the price tag and length of the contract.