Chuck Fletcher has struck again, landing another player who brings some extra toughness (and #gritz) to the Wild Lineup. Chris Stewart is "excited that I'm going to get a chance to play in the playoffs," as he joins the Wild via the trade of a 2017 2nd round pick. Stewart is also a pending UFA, so he is a rental for this season.
Stewart is a 27 year-old winger standing at 6'2" and weighing in around 230 lbs. Stewart also is an 18th overall selection by the Colorado Avalanche from the 2006 draft class. Besides Colorado, he has spent some time with the St. Lewis Blues as well as the aformentioned Minnesota Wild proving ground in Buffalo. In 443 career NHL games Stewart has scored 126 goals along with 127 assist for 253 points as well as 510 career penalty minutes. With Buffalo the past 2 seasons, Stewart has averaged just shy of 16 minutes/game and scored 11 goals with 14 assists in 66 games.
Stewart adds some bulk and depth to the forward group, but it is unclear exactly where he will draw into the lineup with the usual suspects Haula, Brodziak and Fontaine all playing their best hockey of the season while together on the 4th line. The pending returns of Ryan Carter, Matt Cooke and possibly Jason Zucker further cloud the situation, but it is important to remember that rosters expand after today and the team can carry as many players as it can fit under the salary cap. This give the Wild options to rest some more skilled players down the stretch and avoid situations like the end of the Colorado game, where other teams take runs at Wild players.
Stewart also brings with him a little bit of playoff experience as well, playing in 19 games spit between Colorado (6 games) and St. Louis (13 games) but never making it out of the first round. In the post season he has registered 5 goals with 1 assist and 16 minutes in penalties.
Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of this. After the Wild Aquired Sean Bergenhiem I almost figured we were looking at forwards, perhaps a depth move of some kind but nothing over the top. While Stewart is not what you would call an "over the top" move by Fletcher, especially in that we don't have to really pay for him till 2017. Stewart does come with a $4.15 million hit against the cap, and will be a free agent this July. As he looks to be a rental piece to bulk the team up for the playoffs, he would have to really set the place on fire I would imagine in order for the Wild to worry about offering him any kind of contract extension.
Here is Stewart's HERO chart. He's not a great possession guy, but isn't afraid to shoot the puck.