The Montreal Canadiens made a last minute deal during Monday’s NHL trade deadline by acquiring forward Stefan Matteau in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelly. In Matteau, the Habs get a former 2012 first round pick who comes in at 6′ 2″ 220 LBS, bringing more size to the Montreal forward corps. He is 22 years old so he still has upside but his development has been uneven since being drafted.
Who is Stefan Matteau?
Matteau made the New Jersey Devils as an 18-year-old back in 2013 and played 17 games, contributing three points, before the decision was made to send him back to junior. He played out the rest of the 2012-13 season in the QMJHL but his year ended on sour note when he was cut from his team after an argument with his coach. Since he was originally drafted from the United States National Team Development Program, he was eligible to join the AHL as a 19-year-old.
Matteau should have never been in the NHL to start his career but he still has time to turn it around. However, it’s questionable where Matteau currently fits on Montreal’s roster. Even in junior, Matteau was never a big time scorer and his AHL numbers are pedestrian as his career high in points there is 27. His immediate future is in Montreal’s bottom six which is already jam packed as is. Right now, the bottom six consists of Phillip Danault, Jacob de la Rose, Michael McCarron, Paul Byron and Torrey Mitchell with the sixth spot wide open. Waiver claim Mike Brown played in that spot on Monday vs. San Jose and Lucas Lessio has rotated in and out of that spot.
Where does he fit in?
The best place to put Matteau would be the fourth line to start. He has one point in 20 games so far this season and it’s hard to justify yanking out one of the other players in favour of him. It’s difficult to say right now if Matteau is a sizable upgrade on Smith-Pelly as neither player has scored much at the NHL level. For Matteau to be successful, he needs to use his size to get to the dirty areas in front of the net to get his points.
Stefan Matteau was in need of a fresh start and he gets an opportunity in Montreal where younger players are starting to fill out the lineup more due to injuries and the season going south. Matteau has a lot of competition and will have to find a way to carve out a role for himself. He is signed through next season so he has time to figure it out but he will need to find his game sooner rather than later to avoid being lost in the crowd.