While there’s been no official decision made on whether Stefan Matteau will stay with the Devils this season, leave it to GM Lou Lamoriello to exploit the rule book to give himself as much time as possible to make (or announce) his decision. Today, Lou said he hasn’t figured out what he’s going to do, but noted that he doesn’t really any sort of deadline to follow.
“He will not be going back immediately and we’re not going to let his contract status get in the way,” Lamoriello said. “We’re going to continue evaluating this and a decision won’t be made at this point.”
Matteau has already played in five NHL games. If he plays in a sixth game, it counts as a full year off his contract, moving him a year closer to free agency. It remains possible Matteau will play in Thursday’s game against the Islanders, but it’s also possible that the Devils will sit him and let him practice for a few days before deciding whether to send him back to his junior team – Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL.
“He could play. He could not play,” Lamoriello said. “’We’re going to keep all our options open. We will not let the contract get in the way of doing the right thing.”
Corey GriffinYou gotta love Lou. While pretty much every other team a juniors-eligible player made their decision quickly and clearly in advance of their sixth game, Lou is gonna drag this out as long as it suits him. He can have Matteau practice with the team, sit in meetings with the team and work with the coaching staff — as long as he’s inactive on game night, he hasn’t played a sixth game and can still be returned to juniors. It’s pretty brilliant. It might be a way for the Devils not to go down two players on their roster while they wait to see how a waiver claim plays out today (Zach Boychuk?) or while they wait for Adam Henrique to be cleared to return. Either way, Lou, once again, decided to do things on his own schedule while basically telling the waiting world to buzz of. Tremendous.