NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The New Jersey Devils have signed first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau to an entry-level contract, the team announced on Tuesday.
“All I can tell you is he was the best player available, and nothing was going to get in the way of making the right decision for us,” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a telephone interview on the night of the draft. “His name came up when we were going through everything, and it never was an issue.”
Matteau, a six-foot-two center, had 15 goals and 17 assists in 46 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program. The Rangers passed on Matteau when they chose defenseman Brady Skjei one pick earlier.
“He is size and strength,” Lamoriello said. “He is big and physical. He works out with (Dainius) Zubrus, so we know a lot about him from a different direction. He is a size and strength power forward.”
There was some speculation that the Devils were going to forfeit their first-round pick this season to comply with the penalty the NHL imposed on the team for its original contract to leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, a deal the league said tried to skirt the collective bargaining agreement. New Jersey will have to give up a pick in either 2013 or 2014.
There hasn’t been a ton for Devils fans to cheer about this offseason, but this is certainly good to see. Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)