Sunday night at Montreal was certainly a big night for Stefan Matteau. He had several members of family and friends present at the Bell Centre and he was starting the game alongside Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite starting on the top line, Matteau did not stay with them and his ice time diminished to less than ten for the third game out of his four so far with the Devils. It wasn't a great performance or even a good performance. Nevertheless, it's impressive solely for the fact that he's playing in the National Hockey League at the age of 18, his first taste of professional hockey. How good he has been, or rather how awful he hasn't been, is just icing on the proverbial cake. Rather, it's icing on the cake only if Matteau is returned to the QMJHL for the rest of this season real soon.
Since the 2013 regular season has been shortened to 48 games, the slide rule on entry level contracts (ELC) has been reduced to six games. As in, if a player under the age of 20 as of September 15 plays six or more games in the NHL, then his contract will come into effect for the 2013 season. It will count on the salary cap and it will mean the player is eligible for free agency at a younger age. Five or less means the contract won't count yet. Therefore, someone at the age of 18 selected in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft can have their contract slide twice at most. This means the player will hit free agency later than if it began right after the draft. This means it's usually best for teams to let the ELC slide as long as they can if only to save money later. Usually this is a good idea also because the player needs time to develop before playing in the best league in the world. However, there are exceptions.
Why Stefan Matteau Shouldn't Be Kept by the New Jersey Devils
In Lou We Trust | Jan 28