Chris Stewart, The Forgotten Free Agent


Apr 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Chris Stewart (44) against the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The initial buzz of the NHL free agency has come and gone in the matters of days that wrapped up last week. However, some key pieces are still available to the those interested. ‘Interested’ remains the key word, as more and more teams are going with the trend of bridge or short-term deals in an attempt to minimize the consequences or burning themselves down the road in relation to the salary cap. Plus, teams league-wide are more attuned to the mantra of ‘play well, and we will reward you for it’ instead of the old way of paying upfront. Nevertheless, Chris Stewart remains one of those players in the free agency pool with no idea as of right now where or who he will suit up for come next Fall.

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Stewart, who will turn 28 years of age in October, has had quite the ride at the pro-level thus far in his career. This ride has subsequently seen the former No. 18 overall pick from the 2006 Entry Draft play for four teams in a span of seven years. While many may think Stewart’s good years are behind him, namely his 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 campaigns that saw him notch 28 goals in each and 53+ points as well, I believe he has a lot to offer in addition to his ability to put the puck in the back of the net. Stewart is a tough competitor and plays like a true power forward who is not afraid of contact or even to drop the gloves and scrap if need be, as accounted for by his career total of 535 PIMs. So with all this being said, the three teams listed below are hockey clubs that I believe could be a good fit for Stewart and vice versa.

Minnesota Wild

After Stewart was traded to the Wild last season, we really could see the production he was capable of. During the 20 games he logged with the team, he was able to rack up 3 goals and 8 assists for a total of 11 points. There is a possibility that the team may decide to bring back Stewart, and it sounds like Stewart would want to be part of the team’s future. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune caught up with Stewart on locker clean-out day and this is what the forward had to say,

"“Hopefully there’s an opportunity for me to come back here…Me and the family both enjoyed our time here. Thought the fit was perfect. It’s a good group of guys here. I think the future’s definitely bright here.”"

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Despite Stewart’s interest in returning to The Gopher State next season and possibly onwards, the Wild have a heavy investment in forwards at the present moment. According to


, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville comprise 38 percent of the Wild’s payroll. Add in the fact that the Wild currently have a modest $3,628,658 worth of cap space, and signing Stewart back becomes an issue unless he is willing to sign one of those aforementioned bridge deals to prove he can be as productive as he was last season going forward into the future.

Anaheim Ducks 

The Ducks were favored by many last season to hoist the cup, and sure enough almost did so. The Ducks as an organization look to be on the right track to make a legitimate run at the championship again next season, and adding a depth piece like Stewart could prove valuable to the team. The Ducks currently sit with $18,360,833 worth of cap space, but regardless I think Stewart could consider lowering his salary expectations to play one or two seasons with a serious Cup contender.

New Jersey

New Jersey has a fairly successful history of getting production from tough, physical forwards.

I believe Stewart’s all-around game would fit will with the Devils. It is easy to say Stewart plays better in the West by solely looking at his numbers, but you would have to counter into the argument that Buffalo was a horrendous team last season, and this attributed to Stewart’s -30 plus/minus while with the club). New Jersey has a fairly successful history of getting production from tough, physical forwards (Scott Stevens, or better yet David Clarkson anybody?) and Stewart’s ability to provide secondary scoring would be much obliged given the fact the team finished with a lousy 2.15 Goals/Per Game (3rd worst in the NHL) last season. The Devils like the previous two teams also have the money to spend, $20,370,834 in cap space, but like others will not overpay for Stewart’s services in my book. So could he be headed for the ever-so competitive Metropolitan Division?

These teams are all potential suitors, but a deal hasn’t gone through yet. In addition, could the Flyers be a landing place, thus allowing Stewart to play with lifelong friend Wayne Simmons? Could Florida be a destination given the team buying out Brad Boyes and saying goodbye to the likes of Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky? The possibilities seem endless, but I hope for Stewart’s sake he finds the right team chemistry to succeed, even if it’s on a bridge deal.

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