Was it worth it? Is Now the Right Time for Juniors?
So, to my first question: Yes, it was worth it.
The Devils made the right decision in giving Matteau a chance to play the game at the highest level. He has gotten a taste of the NHL and now knows that there is a lot of work to be put in. And it’s not like the Devils can’t associate with him until next September. He will be eligible to return to the Devils after his QMJHL team, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, completes their season. Maybe he’ll be back for the playoffs or perhaps he will be assigned to Albany.
And now the second question: Yes, it is a perfect time to send Matteau back to the QMJHL.
If Matteau was still consistently playing first line hockey with one of the best players in the NHL, Ilya Kovalchuk, and collecting points at a solid clip, I would say no. But that is not the case. Matteau may have played a few games on lines with the likes of Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac, but he only has one goal and two assists to show for in 17 games played. I hate to be blunt, but Matteau is really not helping the Devils currently.
In the last five games, Matteau has only played in two. He was a healthy scratch in three games this past week. It is no good to Matteau if he does not play. Remember, he’s only 19 years old and still needs to develop. In terms of playing time, Matteau has averaged only 13 shifts and 8:53 ice time over his last five games, playing mostly on the fourth line.
Finally, it’s playoff time in the QMJHL, so he’ll see the highest level of play that league has to offer. He should average top ice time, play first line hockey , and gain some confidence in the process. Good luck to Matteau and the Armada in the coming weeks.
People might be upset that the Devils wasted the first year on his three year entry level contract, but I say no. Of course, it would’ve been nice if he was in the running for the Calder trophy right now.
Be sure to check out my upcoming columns entitled “The Show with No Matteau.” I will examine what the Devils will try and do with this open roster spot. Hopefully the team doesnt beat me to it! It could be as simple as opening a spot for Henrik Tallinder or Dainius Zubrus to return from injury, or it may be the first step towards a big move as the trade deadline approaches.