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NHL Teams Face Tough Decisions with Junior Stars

January 31, 2013
By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Stefan Matteau is still with the New Jersey Devils. He may even be with them the rest of the week.

But, then, you might not see him the rest of the season.

Matteau was one of dozens of NHL teenagers caught up in a quirky rule that allowed teams to play their junior-age players for five games before making a decision to return them to their junior club or keep them on the roster and have this season count as the first one of their three-year, entry-level deal.

Some players, like Philadelphia's Scott Laughton, were returned to their junior team after playing five games.

Others, like Matteau, still have undecided fates. Just because Matteau, New Jersey's No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, has yet been sent back, doesn't mean he will necessarily play for the Devils the rest of the way. New Jersey will play the Islanders on Thursday night and Matteau could be there - only watching from the press box.

It's the kind of jam teams around the league were faced with this week as the five-game window expired.

Matteau played against Montreal rookie Alex Galchenyuk in Sunday's game. Galchenyuk, with five points in five games, was in the same spot as Matteau. The Canadiens decided this week to keep Galchenyuk, though, the third overall pick in the draft. Florida center Jonathan Huberdeau also is staying with the big club.

Because of the lockout that wiped out the first three months of the season, rookies had only a few days of training camp to impress club officials, then prove they were worth keeping after only five games. There's enough pressure to make a team and play well for any rookie. This season, it soared.

 
 

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