The name Matteau is one that is still hard to hear for Devils fans. In the near future though, that may change completely, as 18-year-old Stefan Matteau has already shown promise as a New Jersey Devil.
Stefan, spells his name differently than his father, Stephane Matteau, who had a 16-year NHL career. They’re definitely cut from the same hockey lineage though. While father Stephane played at 6’4’’ 220lbs, son Stefan is currently listed at 6’1’’ 209 lbs, by the Devils, though conflicting reports have him as tall as 6’3’’. Certainly though, with ample time to add some bulk, he’ll be able to use his body well.
Stefan, who was born as an American citizen on February 23rd, 1994, has played for the US Developmental team on both the U-17 and U-18 levels. His “current” junior team is Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).
There is a stipulation in Matteau’s contract that may decide whether or not he sticks with the team. The Devils have until after Matteau’s fifth game with the big club to decide whether to add him to their roster for the full season, or send him back down to juniors.
Why would this be an issue? If he plays this season in New Jersey, it will count as the first year of his five-year contract. If he goes back, it won’t count at all. For the Devils, it is a decision based on how much they think he can produce this year.
The talented 18-year-old, who is originally from Chicago, impressed in his first game as a Devil. If he continues to play well and especially if he finds his way into a few points, the Devils may look very hard at whether keeping him for the year would make sense.
Think of Matteau as a power forward with a bit more finesse and a decent wrister. He can use his body well and isn’t afraid to do so. He projects to be a reach second, or solid third line player who can perhaps see a few 15-goal seasons.
To me, Matteau is the perfect kind of player for this day and age in the NHL. While he’s big and possesses some finesse, he’s a solid two-way player that plays with a lot of energy.
Whether or not he gets sent back this year, Stefan will be a part of the Devils future. With young players such as Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby, the Devils are beginning to stockpile young and talented players, which will be crucial in the next few years.
Analysis: This will be a tough decision for the Devils that will only get tougher if Matteau plays well. He looked very comfortable against the Islanders, but he will be in for a test against the physical forecheck of the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
I think he’ll need to play very well and tally at least two points for the team to keep him on. He’ll need to show scoring touch. With many young players, they possess the skills to get open and find shooting space, but they’re often snake-bitten when it comes to finishing. These next few games will tell it all for Matteau.
What do you think? Should the Devils take a chance with him and develop him at the NHL level this year, or let him take his time in juniors?