This is the fourth in a series of in-depth profiles covering each member of the Colorado Avalanche 2019 draft class. The entire series can be found HERE.
The surprise pick of the Colorado Avalanche’s 2019 draft class was Matt Stienburg chosen at the top of the third round at 63rd Overall. Despite ranking at 133rd of North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting the Avalanche chose the 6-foot-1 and 182 lbs right shot center from St. Andrews College as the first in their duo of third round selections which was the final asset given from the Ottawa Senators to complete the Matt Duchene trade. Stienburg is on the NCAA path and is committed to attending Cornell University beginning in the 2019-20 season.
First thing first, Stienburg is the second legacy pick the Avalanche have made in as many years. Matt’s father Trevor Stienburg was a 15th overall selection of the Quebec Nordiques in 1984 and played 71 games with the franchise over four seasons. In that final 1988-89 season the elder Stienburg was teammates with a rookie Joe Sakic and was even one of his first line mates in the NHL.
Aside from the obvious personal connections Stienburg also finds himself in a couple familiar cohorts for the Avalanche. First, he joins their massive collection of Canadians playing south of the border and attending college which currently includes Cam Morrison and fellow 2019 draftee Alex Newhook as well as formerly Tyson Jost and Cale Makar. Stienburg also hails from Nova Scotia which is of course home to Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Graves and another former NCAA path prospect in Shane Bowers.
Stienburg has been on an unconventional path partly due to some challenges he had to overcome. At 14-years old he developed osteomyelitis in his shoulder and hip after an illness spread into his bones he had to undergo multiple surgeries to rid the infection thus only played 16 games in the 2015-16 season. This was a set-back in his QMJHL draft year but Stienburg was eventually drafted by the Saint John Sea Dogs in the 10th round of the 2016 draft. That fall Stienburg wasn’t ready for major junior hockey due to the time missed and lack of physical maturity so he remained at the major midget level with the Halifax McDonalds
Starting in 2017-18 Stienburg moved on to St. Andrew’s College, which is a prep school in Ontario and where Newhook had also attended although they were never teammates. The move allowed Stienburg to keep his collegiate options open as he developed his game and increased strength. Stienburg had a breakout year there and was second in team scoring with 62 points with 29 goals in 45 games.
In the 2018-19 season Stienburg was named captain at St. Andrew’s where he scored 66 points including 31 goals in 48 games. St. Andrew’s won the National Independent School Invitational Hockey Championship when Stienburg also was given MVP title. He also got a two short call ups with Sioux City in the USHL where he chipped in an assist and added a fight as well to the resume. The first stint was for two games at the end of December and the second in April for the last regular season game after his year at St. Andrew’s concluded.
A little bit of Burzan and Stienburghttps://t.co/mM3bXpoUT5
— Nathan Rudolph (@Nathan__Rudolph) June 26, 2019
Stienburg’s game is chock full of intangibles and has that character, leadership and grit that the Avalanche value highly. Stienburg likes to play very physical and with an edge in that throwback power forward vein as his size and strength begin to catch up with his mentality. At development camp (in a drill clip above wearing #9 coincidence or not) Stienburg flashed some of that power and a dose of skill in his game but also showed the weaknesses in his skating. Stienburg is likely ticketed as a role player in pro hockey but one that could follow in the Matt Calvert mold of a dependable, energetic heart and soul type.
As an October 2000 born player Stienburg enters the NCAA in his upcoming 19-year old season with the expectation that he likely plays the full four years at Cornell and then is ready to try his hand at pro hockey. His upside is difficult to determine without seeing how much offense can grow at the NCAA level plus just how much of a physical force he can maintain but Stienburg has the time ahead of him to figure it out.
As always, some shift by shift footage unearthed by Rudo3
Credit the USHL for the photo