Shawn Matthias may not be a high scoring forward, but he is a useful NHL player. The problem with Matthias is the Jets have a lot of bad players on NHL contracts and until they get rid of those players either via waivers or not signing them, it is hard to find room for a player like Matthias in a role that suits him well.
In an ideal world, Matthias is on the fourth line and playing on the penalty kill. He is a short term injury solution to the top nine and he is a capable of driving possession and out-skilling other fourth liners. But the Jets do not have a team in an ideal world. Instead, they have a team where Matthias is played on the third line and Chris Thorburn on the fourth line. In the near future, as early as next season, the Jets should have the players to play a skilled third line and a fourth line that can eat zone starts. In this instance, they can use a player like Matthias who can push play up the ice. Matthias is a good NHLer who is simply miscast on the third line.
Shawn Matthias had a predictably up and down season He started off strong and then fell off the proverbial cliff in January and then clawed out of it at the end of the season. While there are many reasons for players to collapse, there is the possibility of minor injury or simply a situation that is not ideal for the player’s skillset. This is probably the case for Matthias. It should be taken as a positive that Matthias was able to battle back by the end of the season while most of the Jets were falling apart.
While Matthias might not be the best player on the Jets, he has his uses and would be highly effective on the fourth line. This is the problem with the Jets. They have good pieces, but those pieces play on the wrong lines, usually too high in the lineup. The Jets could improve themselves by creating an exploitation line, probably featuring young players along with a hard matching line and a line that starts in the defensive zone a lot. This is what the Jets should be working towards and they have the pieces within the organization to move to a top nine/bottom three model, but they have to be willing to make that move and to use the correct players in the correct places, even if they are not veterans. It will take the Jets themselves understanding that while players like Matthias are valuable to the organization, they should only be used in the correct situation and that they are most effective on the fourth line where they can outplay the opposition.