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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Stefan Matteau

Stefan Matteau, LW

Birthplace: Melville, Saskatchewan 8/7/94
Bio: 6’1, 205 lbs., L
U.S. NTDP U-18
Rankings: ISS – 32 CSS – 17 (NA)

The Skinny: Former NHLer and Ranger playoff hero Stephane Matteau’s son, Stefan, is a stout pit-bull of a forward with a nose for the net – but will his tendency to play over the edge hurt his draft-stock?

Having NHL bloodlines never hurts a youngster’s draft stock. Such is the case with Stefan Matteau, whose father, Stephane, played over 800 games and scored over 300 points with six franchises and memorably sent the New York Rangers to the Cup Finals with a double-overtime goal in game seven of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.

Stefan brings much of his father’s grit to the ice. He’s been one of the top performers for the U.S. NTDP Under-18 squad with his outstanding grit and ‘immovable object’ act in front of opposing netminders. In much the same way as his elite net-front presence, he’s a very effective along the side- and end-boards: Matteau wins puck battles with regularity and protects possession zealously. He’s a real weapon on the forecheck.

Matteau is an effective finisher from in-close and has a heavy shot. He’s taken steps to improve his distribution-game but is most effective as a bull at the top of the crease where he can screen the goalie, deflect point shots and bang home loose rebounds.

While his size and strength make him a dominant force at the junior level, there’s some concern that his transition to the bigger, tougher NHL will be difficult. Players who physically mature at a younger age frequently become accustomed to that fleeting power and control – and occasionally have rude awakenings at the pro level.

Another concern is Matteau’s skating game which even he has admitted needs considerable work. Unless he improves his now-average wheels, his NHL ceiling will be limited. He’s also not the most skilled offensive player and doesn’t have great hands.

But perhaps the biggest issue is discipline. He’s been suspended multiple times for a variety of infractions (and missed over a dozen games as a result). Teams love players who straddle the ‘edge’ of agitation and clean hockey – Matteau’s record shows he’s had some trouble refraining from stepping beyond that line. That said many still consider him a leader and a character-guy so perhaps it’s just an issue that needs ‘reeling in’.

We’re a little bit stumped as to why so many consider Stefan Matteau a first-round lock. If he were a few inches taller, perhaps – but without elite offensive acumen, puck-skills or skating game he’s probably a stretch on Day One. Expect the second-generation Matteau to fall to the second round where he’ll garner a lot of attention early because he’s regarded as such a safe bet to make it to the NHL.

Ideal Fits: Teams looking to add size and toughness to their front line in the late first and early second: Vancouver, NY Rangers, Montreal, Toronto, Dallas

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because he’s a big, truculent net-front presence with finish and charisma.  

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because he steps over the edge too frequently; because he lacks an elite offensive skillset.

Strengths: Physicality, Size, Strength, Net-front Presence, Finishing, Grit, Edge

Weaknesses/Concerns: Discipline, Skating, Offensive Upside, Playmaking

Projection: Third-Line Power Winger (25g, 45p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First/Second Round (25-44)

Overall Rank: 38

N.A. Rank: 26

USHL Rank: 5

Forwards Rank: 19

U.S. National Rank: 6

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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