Calgary Flames Could, But Shouldn’t Be Interested In Chris Stewart


The Calgary Flames made a huge splash at the NHL Draft just two days ago by trading three picks to the Boston Bruins for 22 year old stud defenseman Dougie Hamilton. With the draft wrapped up, our attention now turns to free agency which opens on Wednesday, July 1.

The Flames have wasted no time jumping back into the headlines, as Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman wrote in his 30 thoughts article today that Calgary could very well be in on Chris Stewart, a right winger with the Minnesota Wild.

Elliotte’s exact quote from his article was, “Curious to see if Calgary or Ottawa makes a free-agent poke at Chris Stewart. Both teams pursued him when available in Buffalo. The Flames are looking for some sandpaper, and the Senators have liked him for a while.”

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Now, this doesn’t flat out say that the Flames are going to sign Stewart at all costs and are willing to sign him to a long term deal, but it states the Flames were in on him before he was sent from the Buffalo Sabres to the Wild in March and that they are looking to add some grit and toughness to their lineup, which he would bring.

Also, Stewart is a right winger, and the Flames biggest need at the moment would be a right winger to play on the second line with Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund. On the surface, it seems like a pretty good fit. However, as you dig deeper into Stewart’s statistics in the past few seasons, it may be best for the Flames to pass on the former first round pick.

When he was taken 18th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2006 NHL Draft, the 6’2″ 225 pound winger looked like a budding power forward coming off a 37 goal, 87 point performance with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL.

May 3, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save off his mask with Minnesota Wild right wing Chris Stewart (44) attempting a rebound during the third period in game two of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Chicago won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

In Stewart’s first full NHL season with the Avalanche, he scored an impressive 28 goals and 64 points in 79 games as a 22 year old. He followed that up with another 28 goal campaign, but was dealt to the St. Louis Blues in a multi-player blockbuster that included Kevin Shattenkirk and Erik Johnson. Stewart finished the 2010-11 season with 28 goals and 53 points in 62 games, split between the Central Division rivals.

The Toronto, Ontario native had a massively disappointing season in his first full year in St. Louis, scoring just 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points in 79 games in the 2011-12 season. He bounced back during the lockout shortened 2013 campaign, scoring 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points in 48 games.

Stewart struggled again in 2013-14, scoring just 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 58 games, before once again being part of  huge trade. The Blues shipped him, along with a plethora of picks, prospects and goaltender Jaro Halak to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan Miller. He played just five games, scoring zero points, before being injured for the rest of the season.

This season, Stewart was underwhelming again for the Sabres, scoring 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 61 games before being sent to the Wild at the trade deadline. He played okay for Minnesota down the stretch, scoring 11 points in 20 games, but went goalless in the postseason and had just two points in eight playoff games as the Wild fell in the second round to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Basically, Stewart’s career started very promising with Colorodo where he had one solid full season and two good partial seasons in 2008-11. He continued to play well the rest of the 2010-11 season after arriving in St. Louis, but struggled mightily in 2011-12. He bounced back for a solid half season in 2013, but has scored just 29 goals and 33 assists, which is 62 points in 144 games over the past two seasons, split between three teams.

Nine years after being drafted, Stewart still has a unique combination of size and skill that will ensure he has plenty of teams looking to acquire him this summer. However, his lack of consistency, and the fact he is more likely to score 13 goals than 30 next season, tells me Stewart would not be worth the risk to sign him as an unrestricted free agent.

It might have made sense to be interested in acquiring Stewart at the trade deadline as a rental, hoping he would have one of his  sporadic bursts of offense while he’s on your team. However, he will demand a long term contract with a high salary as a free agent, and it is highly unlikely he will bring consistent offence to whichever team signs him.

Hopefully the Flames will look elsewhere to fill their need for a second line right winger this summer.

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