Center Shawn Matthias
, regarded as one of the Panthers top prospects and just days removed from helping Team Canada to a Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships, has joined the Panthers in New Jersey for tonight’s game against the Devils.
GM and coach Jacques Martin called Matthias up Thursday evening from Belleville of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he has scored 21 goals and 37 assists in 32 games with a plus-21 rating.
Matthias, 19, was also named recently to the OHL All-Star Classic, to be played Feb. 5-6 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“I got the call late last night from the Panthers telling me that I was called up,” said Matthias, who skated Friday morning with the Panthers. “There was a lot of yelling in the house when I told my folks.
“I am just really excited and can’t wait for the game tonight. It is something that I waited for all my life and it is going to be a great experience.”
Martin called up Matthias as the Panthers continue to get hit by injuries. Rostislav Olesz joined fellow forwards Ville Peltonen and Jozef Stumpel on the sidelines after suffering a hand injury Wednesday in Philadelphia. The Panthers are also without defensemen Mike Van Ryn, Cory Murphy, Noah Welch and Branislav Mezei.
Olesz returned Friday to South Florida to be evaluated. No timetable was given for his return.
The 6-4, 213-pound Matthias scored three goals and had five points during the World Junior Championships. He helped set up Team Canada’s Gold Medal-winning, game-winner in overtime against Sweden and was named one of Canada’s top three players in the tournament. The Hockey News recently named Matthias one of its ‘Can’t Wait to See’ NHL players.
After signing Matthias to an entry-level contract with the Panthers last month, Martin said; “We feel Shawn will make an impact in Florida in the near future. He has been very successful in junior hockey and now Shawn is ready to take the next step to professional hockey.”