Mar. 2, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils center Stefan Matteau (15) watches on the bench during a game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Matteau Shines in WJC; Devils Youth Prospers

New Jersey Devils prospect Stefan Matteau was named United States’ top player after a 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic to start the preliminary round of the 2014 World Junior Championships in Sweden. He has 1 goal and 2 assists in 17 games with the Devils, all during the 2012-2013 season.

With a Devils roster that has been damaged by injuries all season long, opportunities for younger players have not been rare. We have talked a great deal about the success of Eric Gelinas, as well as teammates Tim Sestito, Cam Janssen, and fellow defenseman Jon Merrill. All of these players have likely seen more NHL ice time than they had expected to at the beginning of the season, and continue to earn their minutes.

Aging (and arguably aged) stars Jaromir Jagr, Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, and Marek Zidlicky are among the most productive players on the Devils roster as of now. Since they will not be around forever, this leaves a few giant holes to fill; this is no new concept to New Jersey’s team, after losing Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, and Zach Parise over the past two offseasons.

The Matteau surname is infamous in New Jersey, as it was Stefan’s father Stephane Matteau that helped the New York Rangers eliminate the Devils in double overtime of game 7 of the 1993-1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Although his father helped the rival Rangers squad win their first Stanley Cup in over 50 years, Stefan Matteau will likely receive his share of opportunities to solidify a spot in the younger class of New Jersey Devils.

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