After the New Jersey Devils signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a long term contract, they were forced to give up a first round draft pick in either the 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014 season. The 2011-2012 NHL season saw the Devils lose in the Stanley Cup Finals and since they went so deep into the postseason, they owned the 29th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. Surprisingly, the Devils decided to keep the pick when they drafted Stefan Matteau, the son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau. Stefan Matteau is a power forward that plays with physicality. He was a member of U.S. National Development Team and during the 2012-2013 NHL lockout season he joined the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the QMJHL. Once the lockout ended, Matteau would make his NHL debut with the Devils. Here is a look at his career and his impact in the NHL.
Matteau made his debut on January 19, 2013 against the New York Islanders but would record his first goal in February of 2013 against Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He would finish the season with the Devils playing in 17 games, recording a goal and 2 assists. Matteau would spend the next season with the Albany Devils in the AHL. He would tally 13 goals and 13 assists in 67 games. In the 2014-2015 season, Matteau spent a majority of the season in the AHL where he played in 61 games and registered 12 goals and 15 assists. He also played in 7 games for the Devils that season scoring a goal. The following season, Matteau would work his way in and out of the Devils lineup and play in 20 games, recording a goal. In February of 2016, Matteau was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelley. He would play in 12 games for Montreal and register an assist. In the latest 2016-2017 hockey season, Matteau played in the AHL with the St. John IceCaps. He scored 12 goals, added 13 assists and finished 20th in the AHL in penalty minutes with 122. In the off season, Matteau signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Matteau has represented the United States on two separate occasions in his junior career. He was a member of the United States World U17 Hockey Challenge in 2011. In the tournament, Matteau scored 2 goals and tallied 3 assists in 5 games. He won a silver medal. In 2014, he played for the United States in the World Junior Championships and tallied 3 goals and an assist in 5 games.
What’s next for Stefan Matteau?
Matteau and some other minor league players were signed in the early days of July; it appears the Golden Knights will be using these players for their minor league teams. Matteau will be in the AHL next season and at the age of 23, still needs time to develop. The Devils rushed him by having him join the team too soon. Usually, players who play for the U.S. National Development Team go on to play two or three years at the college level or in the CHL. If the Devils had let Matteau play in the QMJHL, he would be further along in his career. Giving him time in the minors to improve his game will only help him develop into a power forward with a boat load of potential. Most likely he will be a top-6 forward with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL and should be able to increase his point totals with more playing time on a new AHL team.