2004-05: Jonathan Matsumoto enjoyed a superb rookie campaign at Bowling Green and was named Honorable Mention to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. He led the Falcons in scoring with 18 goals and 14 assists while playing in all 36 games. Matsumoto led Bowling Green in power play goals (10), game-winning goals (5), and shooting percentage (.189) and was twice named CCHA Rookie of the Week. Matsumoto received Bowling Green’s Sam Cooper Trophy as the team’s top scorer.
2005-06: Matsumoto combined with Alex Foster (TOR) to give the Falcons one of the nation’s most potent offensive duos. Matsumoto finished second on the Falcons team in scoring with 20 goals and 28 assists in 36 games and led the team in goals (20) and power play goals (12). Matsumoto’s posted his first career hat-trick in BGSU’s 9-6 loss to Boston College in October. His -10 plus/minus was as much a reflection on the struggles of Bowling Green (13-23-2) as it was an indictment of his play. Matsumoto was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 3rd Round (79th overall) of the 2006 NHL draft.
2006-07: Matsumoto was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Falcons, who finished 7-29-2. . Matsumoto led Bowling Green in points, scoring 11 goals with 22 assists in 38 games and finished -13. He chose to forego his senior year of college hockey and signed a contract with Philadelphia following Bowling Green’s season. In 16 games with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate Phantoms, Matsumoto tallied 2 goals with 2 assists; and had 4 PIM and was -3.
2007-08: Matsumoto burst out of the gates offensively in his first full season with the Phantoms before cooling off down the stretch. He scored a power-play goal and received second star honors in a 4-1 Phantoms (AHL) victory vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and was named Toyota Phantoms Player of the Month for October after scoring 5 goals with 6 assists in nine games. Matsumoto tied for the team lead in power-play goals during the regular season with 11. He finished the regular season with 20 goals and 24 assists and was +4 with 52 PIM in 77 games. In the AHL playoff, he scored his first playoff goal in Game 4 vs. Albany and finished with 2 goals and 3 assists with 10 PIM and a -5 plus/minus rating.
2008-09: Matsumoto returned to the Phantoms after attending Flyers camp and was the Phantoms’ second leading scorer behind Jared Ross. Matsumoto scored 29 goals with 34 assists to lead a furious Phantoms late-season turnaround that earned the team a playoff spot. Matsumoto’s two-way play was a bit of a concern, as his -12 plus/minus rating indicated, but he was a dangerous player on the power play and in penalty killing situations – when he scored 10 and 4 goals respectively. In the Phantoms’ four-game, first round playoff loss to Hershey, he scored 1 goal with 2 assist and 4 PIM, finishing +1 for the series.
2008-09: Matsumoto’s third season in the Flyers organization was again spent at the AHL level, with Philadelphia having re-located the team to Glens Falls, NY. Matsumoto led the Adirondack Phantoms in scoring with 30 goals with 32 assists while accumulating 50 PIM. He was again dangerous in special teams play, scoring 10 times on the power play and 3 shorthanded goals. Matsumoto’s plus/minus rating (-19) was tied for second worst on the team as the Phantoms struggled and failed to make the AHL playoffs. Matsumoto was traded by the Flyers to Carolina in June for a seventh round pick (206th overall) in the 2010 draft.
Matsumoto is a brilliant playmaking center who brings an infectious enthusiasm to his game. He possesses superb passing skills and knows how to find his linemates. He controls and protects the puck well. Matsumoto is a strong skater who moves well through traffic. He has excellent hockey sense and his play around the net is very good. Despite his less than ideal size, he will drive to the net hard and often. He has a quick, accurate shot. Matsumoto’s foot speed is a concern as he doesn’t quite have that burst of speed of some of the better smaller forwards at the NHL level. A consistent scorer at the AHL level, Matsumoto does not always bring that same determination to his own end of the ice – something that kept him from getting an NHL opportunity with the Flyers.
Matsumoto will get a fresh start with Carolina but with several bigger and stronger forward prospects in training camp he must prove that he is willing to play both ends of the ice if he is to stick with the Hurricanes. He enters his fourth full season of pro hockey so the clock is ticking on his NHL aspirations. Matsumoto has NHL-calibre offensive skills while being an established scorer at the AHL level. Whether he gets the opportunity to prove he can be more than that, and capitalizes on that opportunity, remains to be seen.