The Canadiens will be running with a very inexperienced back end for a while as the team announced Thursday night that Mike Matheson will be out for two months due to an abdominal muscle strain.
The 28-year-old was acquired by Montreal this past summer as part of the Jeff Petry trade with Matheson being expected to take on a bigger role than he has had in recent years with the Penguins and Panthers. He saw heavy minutes in his limited preseason action to the point where it looked like he might be pegged as the top defender on the Habs heading into the season.
Instead, a day-to-day thing has turned into needing an MRI which has revealed an outcome that certainly he nor the team were hoping for. A mid-December return timeline will have Matheson missing at least the first 30 games of the season, further putting pressure on a thinned-out back end that’s also missing Joel Edmundson for a while.
To that end, Montreal might need to consider going out and adding another depth defender at least to give themselves some options as going with four rookies on a regular basis (Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Johnathan Kovacevic, and Arber Xhekaj) is asking for trouble. With Matheson being out this long, he is eligible for LTIR if the Habs get into a spot where they need to open up more short-term cap space. Corey Schueneman was recalled from Laval earlier in the day but he also has very limited NHL experience (just 24 games from last season) so he’s not a viable every-game solution either.
Also on Thursday, the Habs officially sent prospect Logan Mailloux back to London of the OHL. This means that he has been cleared for contact so he should be back in the lineup for the Knights before too long.