Children...Children....Future....Future: Hawks Draft Prospects - Stefan Matteau
Ok, part of me just wanted to use this kid as a measure for how old I've gotten. Because I remember Pappy's goal in 94 like it was yesterday, and the fact that he was four months old then and it's now 18 years later kind of makes me want to vomit. Hawks fans will also remember that vomiting feeling when harking back to Stephane Matteau, because he was infuriating as a Hawk. A big winger with something of a scorer's touch, he never hit and he barely scored, grabbing only 15 goals in the two seasons he was a Hawk before he was shipped out for Tony Amonte. While Amonte didn't disappoint as a Hawk and blossomed here, he didn't score the defining goal on the way to a Cup like Matteau did on Broadway. For those who think it's frustrating now to be a Hawks fan, try and remember stuff like this.
However, his kid doesn't appear to have the same problems.
Everything you hear about Zack Kassian when he was acquired by the Canucks and the Canadian media wet themselves over what was then and is now still a fourth line player (although at some point Kassian is going to be a real problem for everyone) probably applies to Matteau. He's big, though not a behemoth at 6-1, 209lb. But he plays even bigger than that, as he apparently loves to forecheck and throw his weight around. He's got some Kyle Beach in him, in that he loses his rag at times, but not nearly to the point that Beach does. Also, a young kid trying to play a power forward's game is going to take time to learn where that line is. You'd probably prefer a prospect who's just on the wrong side of it now that you can harness back instead of one you have to convince to approach it.
Here's where the Hawks brass's knees will get weak. Matteau can play both wing spots and some center, and we know how they love versatility in their players. While his skating is going to need some work, most scouts seem to think that it will even out and he'll actually be an above average skater when he hits the pro ranks. Partly thanks to his NHL bloodlines, he already has a well-developed hockey brain, and plays the game well down low, which the Hawks are short on in the system as well as the big club.
To boot, thanks to his size and his aggressive nature, Matteau can probably contribute quicker to an NHL team as he wouldn't be out of place starting out on a fourth line just being physical and providing a forecheck. That's different than a lot of prospects, who you have to wait on until they can contribute on the top six. That might make him more attractive to teams above the Hawks. He's a year or two away, as he's headed to Blainville next season. But he is American, so you have the option of putting him at Rockford even though he's under 20 if you feel that's where he should be. The Hawks don't need someone from this draft to contribute immediately, but Matteau might get here quicker than other forwards the Hawks could take at their position.