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After tough start, Florida Panthers scratch Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano



mike matheson panthers trade

The Florida Panthers made a number of changes to their lineup for their must-win Game 3 against the Islanders — the biggest, perhaps, is scratching defenseman Mike Matheson.

The first two games — three if you count the exhibition against Tampa Bay — have not been kind to the Panthers’ young defenseman.

Matheson, last scratched by coach Joel Quenneville on Feb. 10 against Philadelphia, was hit with a number of penalties in the first two games including two in the opening period of the Game 2 loss.

Florida also sat Frank Vatrano (who spent training camp on the top line with Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau) as well as veteran fourth-liner Colton Sceviour.

Lucas Wallmark made his postseason debut with the Panthers on Wednesday as did defenseman Josh Brown.

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As for Matheson, the league announced Tuesday afternoon that it was fining him $2,500 for his high-stick on Brock Nelson which led to a double minor.

The Panthers have a lot riding on the future success of Matheson.

On Oct. 9, 2017, the Panthers locked Matheson in long term with an eight-year contract extension of which he is in the second year of.

The Matheson deal averages $4.75 million and expires in 2026.

Matheson had a tough season in 2018-19 as he was one of the league-leaders in turnovers, something he cut down on this season.

“Mike is an important part of our team’s young core,’’ GM Dale Tallon said when Matheson signed.

“We are thrilled that he has decided to remain a Panther for the long-term. … Mike has developed into a difference maker on our blue line and will be an important player and leader for the Panthers for many years to come.”

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