Rookie Stefan Matteau is skating in Carter’s place on the third line with Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Matteau, who will turn 19 on Saturday, has been a healthy scratch the last three games.I'm not quite sure how often I can bang this drum, but is this really the best development plan for the Devils' first-round draft pick? It's not so much the fact that he's moved around in lines pretty much all season. That part, I get. I think that when he plays it's good for him to experience playing with the top offensive forwards while also playing in lower-pressure situations on the fourth line and then on more defensive-minded shifts with Bernier and Gionta. But to be shuffled in and out of the NHL lineup and serving as somewhat of a "replacement player?" Does he stick around as the extra forward until Dainius Zubrus is healthy and then get sent down to the AHL? I just don't see the benefit in him spending two games in and then three games out.
Here is the breakdown of the players on the ice today:
Forwards: Alexei Ponikarovsky-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk; Patrik Elias-Adam Henrique-David Clarkson; Stefan Matteau-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier; Krys Barch-Andrei Loktionov-Bobby Butler.
Matteau is the future of the Devils, and along with Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique, will represent this franchise for the next seven-plus years. So why are we jerking him around? Wouldn't it better for him to play every night rather than not know where he stands? I get the whole idea of him learning by watching and the theory that he's got NHL-level talent, so why not let him test it against NHL players in practice and occasionally in games. But I find it wholly counterproductive to have Matteau play eight minutes a night for two games and then spend the next three games sitting in the press box when he could be playing 15 to 17 minutes a night with Albany against competition that, although not NHL caliber, is still strong enough to test him and develop him.