With “Harder Forward” Search Still On, Could Chris Stewart Be A Fit In Ottawa?


Chris Stewart

Oct 1, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart (80) against the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Birthplace: Toronto, ON.

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

Height/Weight: 6’2, 228lbs

2014-15 stats: 81GP, 14G, 22A (36 points)

Chris Stewart put up 36 points this season between two teams. That’s above the league average and with elite scorers now more rare than ever, insulation guys like Stewart can be big parts to a teams success. Stewart saved his season a little in Buffalo and could still merit a decently sized contract come free agency.

While I would certainly consider offering Stewart a contract, there are a few reasons why NHL GM’s might shy away from signing a large cheque with Stewart’s name attached.

With scouting reports often mentioning the idea of inconsistency, it worries some. Stewart once looked like one of the NHL’s premier young forwards as in 09-10 he put up a performance worthy of 28 goals and 64 points in Colorado. He was a large piece in the Erik Johnson trade a few years back and after spending 4 seasons in St. Louis, Stewart has bounced around to Buffalo and Minnesota since 2014.

Here’s what the scouting reports say regarding Stewart, again, it’s often the idea of inconsistency that gets him.

"“Consistency continues to escape him, which he needs in order to hit the next level of his development. Has to play with an edge at all times, since he cannot get by with talent alone. Must also continue working on his play away from the puck and in his own end.” – The Hockey News"

"“Chris Stewart is one of the most frustrating and difficult players to analyze in the NHL. His time with the St. Louis Blues was always a tale of two different players – Stewart the lethal offensive weapon and Stewart the uninterested, sluggish forward. ” – Frozen Notes"

I took exception to that last comment regarding Stewart as he was compared to the offensive weapon and the “uninterested, sluggish player” It’s hard to give that kind of player big bucks as a UFA, but Stewart may still be one of the most desirable forward free agents this off-season.

A Fit In Ottawa? 

Ottawa has some considerable Right-Wing depth. With Mark Stone proving exactly what he can do and Bobby Ryan looking to get back on the right track next season, those two should fill out Ottawa’s right side top-6 well. Beyond that, however, the Senators find themselves looking at Curtis Lazar (a natural C), Alex Chiasson, and Chris Neil as the next on the list.

Following his 2014-15 season, M. Stone finds himself atop the Senators’ depth charts

Bryan Murray keeps going back to that “harder forward” idea, and considering that, Stewart might just be the perfect fit for the Senators. Alex Chiasson has the size, but has proven his game doesn’t feature enough edge (or skating ability) to play that role each and every night.

That bottom 6 is a group that can be improved, and if Murray cannot find that forward through a trade, Stewart could be a decent option from Free Agency if his contract demands aren’t too crazy. I’m guessing Stewart goes for something like 4 years, 4 million; in which case Ottawa would likely be out.

I doubt Stewart comes to Ottawa, despite extreme interest in the past from Senators management. The forward group can certainly be improved, I just don’t think Stewart is the right option especially as a free agent at this point in time.

The lack of consistency is worrisome and given Stewart’s likely contract as a free agent, I’d advise Ottawa to stay well away from Stewart’s camp come July.

Next: Robin Lehner Should Not Be The Piece Moved

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