Stefan Matteau Signing Begins Rebuilding of Devils' Forward Prospect System

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IAugust 16, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22:  Stefan Matteau, 29th overall pick by the New Jersey Devils, poses for a portrait during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In a year where they could have, and probably should have yielded one of their first-round draft picks to the NHL as a result of the initial Ilya Kovalchuk contract, the Devils instead decided to draft an old nemesis' son.

Stefan Matteau, the son of former New York Ranger Stephane Matteau, who scored a Game 7 double overtime winner in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils, which led the Rangers to their Stanley Cup run and eventual win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Any chance the two teams get to spite each other is taken, the Rangers won the '94 cup while the Devils turned around and won it the next year, and then twice more, not to mention their total of five Stanley Cup appearances since the Rangers won it all. 

The Rangers signed long-time Devil and Crash Line member Bobby Holik to a rich contract which didn't work out, and did the same with Devils cup-winner and former rookie of the year Scott Gomez. There needs to be no explanation of how that signing panned out.

After failing to sign Patrik Elias years back, they were outright rejected by former captain Zach Parise.

After the Devils beat the Rangers in last year's Conference Finals, the organization decided to stick it to New York off the ice by signing Matteau, who they have deemed worthy being drafted not only in the first round, but overcoming a very hard decision to give up the second worst draft selection possible in the first round, the first of course being Los Angeles' 30th overall choice. 

With little depth at the forward position in terms of NHL prospects who have not yet set foot on ice at an NHL arena, the Devils are clearly among the shallow.

HockeysFuture lists drafted forward Reid Boucher and former Euro player Hari Pesonen as the organization's top two forward prospects, ouch. 

Perhaps generously listed as 6-2 and 215 pounds, Matteau is a hulk at only 18 years of age. Designated a power forward, he can throw his weight around, play defense, but needs work on offense. Despite the size, his scouting report sounds similar to that of Adam Henrique before he made the pro club, although Matteau is projected to develop a little faster. 

Addressing their biggest area of concern, the Devils have put a solid addition in their farm system. Matteau is attempting to make the pro roster right out of camp this year, but it would most likely be wise to let the youngster pick up some more muscle and work on his offensive skills for at least a few more years in the QMJHL.