There’s not one set path to the NHL. Each player’s journey is different. At first it looked like Stefan Matteau’s trip was a direct route, but the last couple of years have included a few boulders in his way since being selected in the first round in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Matteau made his NHL debut that following season, appearing in 17 games before returning to Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL) for the remainder of the year. Since than Matteau has spent the majority of his time in the AHL, appearing in 128 games.
It would appear his round-about journey to the NHL is nearing its conclusion after spending the last couple weeks of the 2014-15 campaign with the New Jersey Devils.
“I’ve prepared myself this summer to make that jump,” the 21-year-old said. “I’ve been developing in the American League for two years and I got a little stretch at the end of the year last year in the NHL. Hopefully, that continues into this year. I think I’m ready.”
Matteau was one of the last players to be sent to Albany at the end of last year’s training camp. After producing four points in the first three games, he slowed down and had five points in 23 games in November and December.
His production picked up after the New Year and he finished the season with 12 goals and 15 assists, including a four-game point streak to closeout the campaign.
“I had a good summer of training last year,” Matteau said. “I came into the camp ready to go. There were a lot of guys signed already so I got sent back to the American League. I had a good first game — a couple of points. Then I went on a cold stretch for a little bit. After Christmas my game really picked up. I got called up for a couple of weeks and when I got sent back down around Christmas time, I thought my game really picked up – scoring goals and playing how I should play and playing how they wanted me to play.”
While New Jersey was transitioning to General Manager Ray Shero’s watch, Matteau – a restricted free agent — resigned with the organization on July 17.
From that point on, Matteau felt he had a major opportunity to make that jump to the major league. He said Shero told him that he can come into camp thinking he is an NHLer.
Matteau: “It’s really my spot to lose, so I have to play how I play: hit, get to the front of the net, take shots and be a big body and be a force.”