Devils select son of Matteau with 29th pick
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello pretty much assured that the younger Matteau wouldn't allow history to repeat itself when he drafted Stefan with the 29th pick of the NHL Draft at Consol Energy Center on Friday.
Was the youngster, NHL Central Scouting's No. 17-ranked North American skater, surprised by the selection?
"I met with the Devils a few times, but obviously knowing the history of my name, I guess it's surprising," Matteau said. "But I couldn't be more thrilled."
Matteau's father was selected with the 25th pick in 1987 by the Calgary Flames, meaning Stefan lost the big bet since father was drafted earlier than son.
After hearing his name announced by New Jersey director of amateur scouting, David Conte, Matteau said he didn't even have enough time to chat with his father.
"I gave [my father] a hug and ran down to the stage," Matteau said. "I think he's happy for me. If I would have gone to the Rangers with the pick before, there would have been a lot of pressure. I think it's good for me and I'm glad to be a Devil."
Matteau was the sixth American-born player drafted in the opening round. He'll play for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2012-13.
"You meet with teams early on and give yourself expectations and sometimes you don't meet them," Matteau said. "I thought I could have gone earlier, but it worked out in the end. There are 10 to 15 minutes between each pick and it's long.
"Today was the longest day of my life, but it all worked out in the end and I'm really proud."
The 6-foot-1 1/2, 210-pound center had 15 goals, including four power-play goals, and 32 points in 46 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program this season. He also accumulated 166 penalty minutes. In 47 games with the U-17 Team last season, he had seven goals, 18 points and 67 penalty minutes.
"I'm a big-bodied power forward, have a lot of skill and a good shot, and I play with an edge," Matteau said. "Some teams like that, and I like to bring an all-around solid game."
Matteau doesn't believe he plays the game as his father once did.
"Growing up, I did get to watch him … he was a hard-working, physical guy who played with an edge," Stefan told NHL.com. "It's weird to say this because he played 15 years, but I think I'm more offensive than he was. Dad told me I'm bigger and more skilled … that's what he said."
Matteau believes he's a perfect fit with the Devils, a team he considered to be one of the hardest-working in the playoffs.
"Just their physicality and the way they never stopped," Matteau said. "The Final was a tough go, but they still didn't back down and that's how I play. I go hard to the end and it's a good fit for me."
He said his "mentality is to make the team next year."
"If not, I'll just go back to junior and develop one more year and hopefully make the jump after that."
U.S. U-18 NTDP coach Danton Cole envisions Matteau as a prototypical power forward in the NHL. Some believe he could be the next Jordan Staal. Matteau sees himself as a future James van Riemsdyk, Scott Hartnell or Vincent Lecavalier.
"He's a powerful man, big and strong," Cole told NHL.com. "He plays a physical game and he's going to be good. I would think he's a little (more physical than dad). He also probably has a little more high-end offensive ability -- Stef's going to put the puck in the net."
Does Matteau have a message for Devils' fans?
"No, not really … I'm in shock myself," he said with a grin. "There's a bright future ahead, and I'm looking forward to having an impact wherever they may need me."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale