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Stefan Matteau: The New Jersey Devils 1st Round Pick of the 2012 NHL Draft

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With the 29th pick in the 2012 draft the New Jersey Devils selected center Stefan Matteau from USA Development program. Matteau has great size (6'2"/210 pounds) and is headed to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL next year. He had originally committed to the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux but ended up with the Armada where his father is a assistant coach.

A Little Audio:

Hot off the presses fromthe draft former ILWT author and current SBN contributor Steve Lepore has an interview with the newest Devil.

In the New England Hockey Journal, Kirk Luedeke described Matteau's play:

A rugged power forward who has a big shot and plays a hard-nosed style, his skating needs work and he racked up a lot of penalty minutes over the course of the last couple of seasons (140 in just 46 USHL contests).

Like his father, Matteau doesn’t possess a lot of flash, but he plays a gritty north-south game and can crash the net effectively. In 18 USHL games, he tallied six goals and 10 points. He protects the puck well and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty.

Discuss your thoughts on Matteau in the comments section below, more information to come including scouting quotes, video, etc.

Stefan Matteau Statistics:

The Art of Scouting Shane Malloy's (who wrote a great book on scouting available via his website) had Matteau going #24 in his mock draft, emphasis mine:

He is a shoot first player and would be better suited on the wing where he has less defensive responsibilities and more opportunity to use his power game. He skates well for size and he should not have any troubles keeping up to an NHL pace once he finishes developing. He is solid defensively while showing hustle and determination chasing down and battling for loose pucks. He is the type of second line complimentary player that every organization is looking for and is a playoff style player.

I like the thought that he can become a second line player. Many other reports I had read on him had him slated to be a bottom six player, which to me isn't a good use of a first round pick.

Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey Blog also thought Matteau has top-six forward potential.

Peters also wrote up a blog on the top American prospects, ranking Matteau 6th. He also lists Matteau's rankings with all of the major scouting services:

6. Stefan Matteau — U.S. National Under-18 Team — I think the IIHF decision to rule Matteau ineligible really hurt Matteau’s draft stock. He needed that event to showcase himself against his own age group, but didn’t get it, unfortunately for him. He was a first-round lock early in the year, but has started to look like more of a safe bet for early second round. Personally, I still think Matteau is a first-round talent. He plays with some nastiness, has a terrific shot and his skating has been underrated this year. Matteau gets into penalty trouble and occasionally makes other questionable decisions, but the physical tools are really hard to come by this year. CB: 48; HP: 41; ISS: N/R; FC: N/R; GS: 22; THW: 29. Average: 35

Kyle Woodlief, of the Red Line Report had this instant analysis on the Devils pick of Matteau:

29. New Jersey Devils: LW Stefan Matteau. The grinder hits everything that moves but is kind of a one-trick pony. Powerful skater but lacks lateral agility. Strong and responsible along the walls defensively.

A Little Video:

In the clip below, you won't see Matteau much (he's #32) but he does get in good position to tip the point shot past the goaltender.

One Man's Opinion:

Was this the guy the Devils had in their sights when they chose NOT to relinquish this pick as part of the Ilya Kovalchuk penalty? I have a hard time believing it is, but whether he was that person or not, he's a Devil and will be for the immediate future.

Matteau is a big powerful forward. The consensus on his abilities are that he can drive to the net, collect garbage goals and punish defenders on the forecheck. He is also defensively responsible, an adequete skate and has a decent snap shot. The fact that he played center showed how much the US Development program trusted him in all three zones. If an eventual move to wing happens, his experience at center will make him a well rounded forward.

To me, in this draft, Matteau was comparable to Tom Wilson, who I really wanted. So as I digest the pick, I am certainly more excited about it. I think of Matteau as having some of the skills a David Clarkson has but with better skating and defensive abilities. As with most prospects I would have preferred he went to the NCAA to hone his skills. There he would have been discouraged from fighting and been better able to toe the line between aggressive and reckless that he seems to fight with right now.

It's impossible, right now, to say whether or not this was a 'good' pick. We need a few years for that. But ultimately this pick, and Matteau's career, will be defined by where he ends up slotting himself in a lineup. Is Matteau a second line player or third line player? That remains to be seen. He heads up to the QMJHL where we will watch his progress and hope he develops into the top six forward Shane Molloy and others think he can be.

One Last Thing:

I mention this for the first time and the last time. His father scored the double overtime goal to beat the Devils in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals and send the New York Rangers to a double overtime victory against the Rangers. That's it. I am never mentioning that again. (although I will think about it a whole lot)

Per Tom Gulitti's Twitter Feed, Lou Lamoriello isn't bothered by the name connection:

Your Opinion:

You've read my opinion and others....I am sure you have your own. Let your voice be heard and sound off below.

A word of caution. Even if you wanted the Devils to select another player or think this wasn't the perfect guy for the pick, remember that we have a very long ways to go before this pick can be considered good or bad.