Dainius Zubrus is out tonight with an injury and taking his place in the lineup is 18-year-old rookie, Stefan Matteau.
This sort of minor move wouldn’t normally be important, except for the fact that by virtue of Matteau being in the lineup for tonight, he will stay with the Devils for the rest of the season.
When he steps on the ice to play in his sixth game, his entry contract now kicks in and this year will count as a year off that contract, therefore he will be staying in New Jersey.
UPDATE 11:35: Sounds like the Devils are taking a stance as if they don’t necessarily care about losing the year on the contract in regard to Matteau, that if they need to send him back down to juniors, they’re okay with it, even if it means the contract counts for the year.
Tom Gulitti: DeBoer: “I think Lou said right from Day 1 that he wasn’t going to let contract status stand in the way if we thought Stef could help us.”
DeBoer: “I don’t think by us playing him this game (means) it was a lifetime contract or any guarantee that he was going to be here for the next 40 games. But it’s another opportunity for him to show he’s an NHL player.”
Analysis: Though there is the option of sending Matteau down, I really can’t see it happening. A. They like what they’ve seen from him thus far and B. Why eat the money on the contract? I would assume he’ll stay unless he clearly plays himself off the team.