MONTREAL - Just moments before the 2016 trade deadline crept past the 3:00 p.m. cut-off-time, came the news that the Canadiens had made a last minute deal.
In his second roster move of the day, general manager Marc Bergevin acquired forward Stefan Matteau from the New Jersey Devils, in return for winger Devante Smith-Pelly. The announcement of the trade came on the heels of the news that the Habs had claimed Mike Brown off waivers from the San Jose Sharks.
Matteau - a former first round pick by the Devils back in 2012 – has had his 2015-16 season limited to just 20 games due to a nasty injury. On January 14, Matteau was placed on the injured reserve after he was struck in the face by a deflected puck during practice and suffered a facial fracture.
The 22-year-old winger had just returned to New Jersey following a one-game conditioning stint spent with the Albany Devils of the AHL, before he was ultimately dealt to the Canadiens.
"I didn't get to play as much as I'd like with the Devils, but right now I am concentrating on the future and I'm just excited to be a Hab," noted the former member of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and USHL’s U.S. National Development Team. “I'm still young and will continue to develop my game. I see myself as a goal scorer that can play with a physical edge too.”
The Chicago, Illinois native also has experience on international stage, where he represented Team USA at the 2014 World Junior Championships. Moreover, Matteau also plied his trade with the Albany Devils of the AHL, where he would pick up a total of 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) and 110 penalty minutes in 129 career games.
Smith-Pelly for his part heads to New Jersey after suiting up for 66 games with the Canadiens since being acquired in exchange for Jiri Sekac on February 24, 2015. The 23-year-old winger, who had trouble finding a regular spot in Michel Therrien’s lineup this season, should get an opportunity to showcase his talents as the Devils continue their fight for one of the remaining playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, Matteau - who has a total of 44 games of NHL experience to his credit - is expected to join the Canadiens in Los Angeles on their current road trip out west.
Interestingly, I guess you could say that being dealt on trade deadline day runs in the family. For the Habs newest addition became the second member of the Matteau clan to get traded on the infamous deadline day, as his father - and former Ranger Stephane Matteau - went through a similar experience in March of 1994.
“I had the chance to talk to my father after the trade and we both see it as a new beginning,” concluded the former junior standout, who grossed 47 points (28 goals, 19 assists) in 81 games at the junior level.
The trade deadline can often be a nerve-wracking experience for both players and loyal fans, Matteau for one counts himself lucky to have his father to turn to for advice on such an unpredictable day.
Jared Ostroff is a writer for canadiens.com
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