Luckily, the NHL is not like the NFL and NBA when it comes to draft picks. Most fans don’t know when their favorite player was drafted or even what year they were drafted. In the NFL, you know when someone was drafted because they come into the league automatically on most occasions. The NBA sees all their first-round picks trying to make a difference on the court.
With that comes a certain amount of expectation. In the NHL, teams can take their time with their first round picks. That is exactly what the New Jersey Devils should do with last year’s first-round pick Stefan Matteau. He definitely needs a lot more polishing before he is ready for the pros.
Matteau is a great talent. He can hit with almost any forward and can score at the drop of a hat. He will one day be a great two-way forward, if he is dealt with the right way. He is struggling this preseason. He tends to look out of place, which would have been fine early last season since everyone was after the lockout. He has some work to do in regards to his overall game.
He showed bad character when he was kicked off his Juniors team. It seemed like he acted like he was bigger than the team. That is not what Lou Lamoriello and the Devils want to hear from one of their best prospects. He needs a year under the tutelage of the Albany Devils. He knows what it is like to play with the big league club, but that needs to motivate him, not make him feel entitled. He needs to work to get back to play with the big names. He should have Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby to talk to when it comes to a first-round pick who years later is still not a regular player.
Matteau could be a great player. He just needs to work on his game and adjust his attitude. These are attributes that are worked on in the minors. He needs to spend the season there in 2013-14. Even in the event of an injury, bring up Tedenby and Josefson instead of him. You have Rod Pelley, Cam Jansen and Krys Barch to throw into the lineup if you have to. Do not bring this kid up from the minors at all. His future is on the line.