Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dwight Mathiasen

Dwight Mathiasen was one of many highly regarded prospects who never caught on in the NHL. He played in the BCJHL (British Columbia Junior Hockey League) for a couple of seasons. In his last BCJHL season in 1982-83, he scored 123 points (50+73) in 48 games for the Abbotsford Pilots.

He then went on to play for the University of Denver where he had a stellar career between 1983-86. Dwight scored 198 points in 123 games for the "Pioneers" which was the second highest point total in school history at that time. In his junior year (1985-86) Dwight exploded for 89 points in 48 games, including a school record 28 game scoring streak. He was also named to the 2nd WCHA All-Star team.

Dwight was never drafted but was grabbed by Pittsburgh in the college free-agent market. At first Dwight indicated that he wanted to play in his hometown Vancouver (where he grew up). Somehow he rejected a last minute $1.4 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks. Instead Dwight signed a four year $ 1.2 million contract, which included a $250,000 signing bonus with Pittsburgh. His yearly salary put him above Detroit's record free agent signings of Ray Staszak and Adam Oates the year before. At the time of the signing Dwight said that he was attracted by the Pittsburgh organization and the possibility to play on Mario Lemieux's right side.

Dwight was available to play for the Penguins in their final four regular season games in 85-86, but wasn't eligible for the playoffs because he wasn't with the team as of March 11 (he signed on March 31), the date NHL rosters were frozen.

Dwight made his NHL debut the day after he had signed, on April 1,1986 at Washington. Five days later (April 6) he scored his first NHL goal & point at Madison Square Garden against the NY Rangers.

A lot was expected from Dwight at the start of the 1986-87 season, but he had a so-so camp and was sent down to Penguins farm team in Baltimore (AHL). He played in Baltimore for most of the season and finished with 45 points in 61 games and only played in 6 games for Pittsburgh. In 1987-88 Dwight played 23 games for Pittsburgh and didn't score a goal (he had 6 assists). In the IHL for Muskegon he had 61 points in 46 games.

After that 1987-88 season Dwight retired only 25-years old. He never fullfilled the expectations although he certainly had all the tools to become a solid second or third line winger. What Dwight will be remembered for is that he was among the first three rookie free-agents to sign a $ 1 million plus contract.

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