As the New Jersey Devils' team charter left the tarmac in Montreal, one player was left behind. At least he didn't have to go far to join his old team.
Forward Stefan Matteau Jr. was sent back to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL Sunday, a day after playing in Montreal against the Canadiens.
The move, which only made sense for both the Devils, who weren’t using him, and Matteau, who could use the ice time to develop, will put the 19-year-old into the fire. Matteau will return in time for Game 1 of the Armada’s first round series against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Matteau, who had three points in 17 games, was struggling to stay in the Devils lineup, with New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer choosing to sit him in the press box for 12 of the team’s 29 contests. When he was playing, he wasn’t playing much, with a month-high of 11:18 on the ice in the Devils’ 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on March 9. He played just more than five minutes on Saturday against Montreal, a 2-1 loss, after sitting out the previous four games.
Matteau will return to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada just in time for the playoffs. He had 28 points, including 18 goals, in 35 games before the shortened NHL season started. Matteau last played for the Armada Jan. 11 against the Halifax Mooseheads. The team went 17-5-1-3 in his absence, en route to a TELUS East division title and third place in the league.
This news comes a day after the Buffalo Sabres announced that center Mikhail Grigorenko will be sent back to the Quebec Remparts. Grigorenko earned a goal and three assists in Quebec’s 5-3 win over Rimouski Sunday.
Both Grigorenko and Matteau would be eligible to return to the NHL after their respective QMJHL seasons are over.
Matteau, the son of former NHL player Stephane Matteau, will bring another finesse player to the Armada, a team that thrives on defence and two-way play. He will likely slot into injured forward Ryan Tesink’s spot. Tesink played six games with Blainville before an undisclosed controversial injury slowed his season down, and he hasn’t returned since. Matteau will give the Armada another top forward on an NHL high just as the playoff season begins, likely to give Blainville another advantage as they play the Titan in the first round.
The Devils sit in second place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division, with a 13-10-6 record for 32 points.