As far back as the trade deadline, it was widely known, or at least speculated, that the Ottawa Senators had a definite interest in the services of former St. Louis Blues and current Buffalo Sabres forward Chris Stewart.
Talented but sometimes inconsistent, Stewart is a 6’2″, 220 lb winger who is still just 26 years old and has good upside.
When the Senators couldn’t pry Stewart away from the Blues heading into the 2014 trade deadline, he was instead dealt to the rival Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres GM at the time – former Senators’ assistant GM and nephew of Bryan Murray, Tim Murray. Many speculated that Tim would flip Stewart to the Senators at the time, but I disagreed, stating that it wasn’t the right time for Timmy to deal with the Senators.
Well, after the better part of a season on the job in Buffalo, and having some trades, a draft and free agency period under his belt , now might be the time when the Senators and Sabres could make a deal for Stewart.
The return for Stewart might include the Senators getting rid of either Colin Greening or Erik Condra and freeing up a forward spot, as well as one of the 8 defensemen on the roster, probably a Patrick Wiercioch or Mark Borowiecki. Tim Murray is familiar with the Senators roster and obviously sees potential and likes what Greening brings because he would have been a primary factor in negotiating the deal that is now an albatross around the Senators’ neck.
If you would assume Stewart and a mid-round draft pick for Wiercioch and Greening, the cash in and cash out for this season would be identical, an important factor for the cash-conscious Senators. The Sens would be lowering their cap hit by $400K this season but the drawback is that Stewart would add to the group of pending unrestricted free agents that already includes Marc Methot, Craig Anderson, Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur.
For my money, Stewart would add an element that is lacking on the Senators – a power forward with finishing ability who could score 20-25 goals and get 125 penalty minutes over the course of a full season.
Now might be the time for the Murrays to get together for the benefit of both the Senators and the Sabres.