You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but there’s something distinctly different about defenseman Michael Matheson.
The Pointe-Claire, QC. native didn’t join the Shawinigan Cataractes, who selected him 27th overall in the 2010 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft. In fact, the No. 1 ranked prospect heading into that draft fell for the same reason he didn’t report to Shawinigan.
Unlike the strong majority of his hockey peers, Matheson is going stateside to continue his hockey career. More specifically, he’s committed to Boston College.
Matheson’s decision to pursue the NCAA route is perhaps more notable than ever in a time that has seen several high profile collegiates de-commit to their school in favour of the Canadian Hockey League.
The decision was simple for Matheson. The college route, which will have the six-foot-one, 170-pound blueliner spend the upcoming year with Dubuque of the United States Hockey League, best suits his development.
“Physically and mentally I’ll be able to be more mature in college,” Matheson said. “I looked at the schedule of an average QMJHL team versus a college team and a USHL team and the amount of days that a college team can get in the gym versus a junior team – it’s a lot more. Physically and mentally I’ll be able to be more mature in college.”
Which Matheson thinks will better prepare him for an NHL career.
“Defensemen take longer to get to the NHL,” admitted Matheson, one of seven defensemen named to Canada’s Under-18 entry in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. “Size wise, it’s pretty tough to get there and it’s a bit more of a tactical game. There are a lot of little things you have to learn.”
In a summer that has seen defensemen Connor Murphy and Jamie Oleksiak migrate north to the Ontario Hockey League alongside goaltender John Gibson and forwards Reid Boucher and Jonathan Miller, the Major Junior versus college debate has never been more heated.
And while committed to Boston College, Future Considerations’ 23rd ranked prospect for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft can understand their decisions.
“I guess it could depend on where you get drafted and what your drafted team is saying to you,” Matheson said. “The option of playing one year of junior and then getting to the NHL club is there. It’s definitely the faster route as they call it.”
But for the time being, Matheson has all the time in the world.
“Right now I’m not thinking of faster because I know my body isn’t mature enough to play anywhere near a pro game,” he said. “I’m really excited to go to the USHL and get that much better and hopefully get drafted to the NHL this year.”
And while his potential path to the NHL may be a bit different, his dream remains the same as his prospect peers.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!