Forgive Stefan Matteau if he tires of talking about the famous goal his father, Stephane, scored against the Devils 18 years ago. He has only lived with it nearly everyday of his life.
The No. 29 overall pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft was three months old when his father’s wraparound goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final eliminated the Devils from the playoffs and set the stage for the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
“I’ve seen it too many time to count. Come playoff time it’s always on,” Matteau said Thursday. “I’ve looked at it myself. I always joke around with my dad about it. It wasn’t a nice goal, but it was a pretty important goal.”
Matteau was one of 39 players who participated in the Devils’ week-long rookie camp at the AmeriHealth Pavilion, inside the Prudential Center. And he quickly showed flashes of why the team thinks he’ll be an important part of their future.
Midway through the second period of the team’s scrimmage, goaltender Chris Rawlings was forced to freeze the puck after a shot from the mid-line because Matteau had beaten White Team defenseman Thomas Parisi to the front of the net.
For an organization like the Devils, for whom Stanley Cups are the stated goal, it was a play that could resonate in the minds of the decision makers.
“If you show you can play and play the right way, there’s opportunity here,” head coach Pete DeBoer said. “If you do things right, you have a chance to play.”
For now, Matteau will spend next season with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where his dad is an assistant coach. He will also attend the U.S. Under-20 tryout camp in Lake Placid next month where he hopes to make the squad that will represent the United States in the World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia.
DeBoer, who attended Thursday’s session, agreed with the suggestion that Matteau’s height (6-foot-2) and weight (200 pounds) seem to project the left-winger developing into a David Clarkson-esque player.
“We like that type of hockey. We want to be a hard team to play against. He fits that mold,” DeBoer said. “The scouting reports, where he was drafted, say that he’s that type of player. That’s the first foot in the door. Now the rest is up to him on where he takes that.”
The Devils announced on Tuesday that Scott Stevens and Matt Shaw were hired as assistant coaches to replace Larry Robinson and Adam Oates, who took assistant coaching and head coaching positions with San Jose and Washington, respectively.
When DeBoer met with reporters Thursday morning, he said that Stevens will coach the defense corps and Shaw will run the power play. The Devils retained goaltending coach Chris Terreri and Dave Barr. Stevens and Barr will be on the bench and Shaw will view the game from the press box.
“Obviously when you lose very good people like we lost in Adam and Larry your first thought is where are you going to find quality replacements,” DeBoer said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to fill those spots with the people we have here.”
DeBoer said he was “disappointed” that the Devils were unable to re-sign Zach Parise and noted that he had not spoken with Ilya Kovalchuk regarding the wing’s health following the Stanley Cup final. He also said that he “hadn’t put a date” on naming a captain.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.