Buffalo Sabres: Chris Stewart Trade Rumours
Sep 26, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart (80) goes after Toronto Maple Leafs center Sam Carrick (53) in a fight during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Trade rumours have already begun to swirl several Buffalo Sabres skaters as the youth movement appears to be full-on at First Niagara Center.
Stewart’s name has been through the trade mill before and a number of sources are onto his latest availability on the trade market. With only one year remaining on his two-year $4.15 mil/year contract, Stewart fits the profile of the typical Deadline Day rental player that Stanley Cup contenders drool over.
But should GM Tim Murray make Chris Stewart available?
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of moving Stewart out at some point this season.
The Buffalo Sabres Shouldn’t Trade Chris Stewart
A Prototypical Power Forward
When Stewart has been in the lineup, he has shown some power forward ability. With 115 goals, 228 points, and a 13.4% shooting percentage in his 383 game career, Stewart has shown a bit of a nose for the net.
Stewart fits the bill as a tough NHLer who can score. This is the type of fan-favourite player that can change the game with a goal or a fight.
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Though his zone starts were carefully managed (second lowest defensive zone faceoff rate on Buffalo Sabres last year) Stewart did manage the fifth best Corsi% on the team (47.5%).
Youth and Upside
Rebuilding teams, like the Buffalo Sabres, usually look to gather young players with upside. Stewart is only 26 years old and his upside still sounds tantalizing:
"Owns tremendous size and strength, and is at his best when working the corners of the ice. Is physical and plays with a warrior’s mentality (most of the time). Is faster than most think, and has what it takes to score goals, including a bullet for a shot.The Hockey News on Chris Stewart’s strengths"
With youth on his side and untapped offensive potential, Stewart seems more like a player the Buffalo Sabres should be targeting, not dealing away.
$4.15 million/year sounds like enough salary for a guy that hasn’t topped 36 points since 2010. But, some players with comparable salaries put Stewart’s stipend into perspective. This season, David Jones, Mike Fisher, Brian Gionta, Daniel Briere, Benoit Pouliot, Bryan Bickell, and teammate Drew Stafford will all earn about the same salary.
Stewart compares reasonably well with this group.
Sep 26, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart (80) celebrates his second goal of the night against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The Buffalo Sabres Should Trade Stewart
Despite the talent, Chris Stewart remains an inconsistent player. After two hot seasons to start his NHL career, Stewart’s production and minutes have steadily declined. For a top-six forward, Stewart is hard to build a team around.
The Price Tag
Chris Stewart-types tend to bring in a decent return, especially at the deadline.
Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Andrei Loktionov and a third round draft pick in return for Tuomo Ruutu (a tough-nosed played with a hint of offense). The year before, the San Jose Sharks landed hard-nosed Ryane Clowe in exchange for two second round draft picks and a third round pick.
If the Buffalo Sabres can expect a couple of second/third round draft picks and a roster player in return for Chris Stewart, it might make sense for the Sabres to move Stewart out of town.
What do you think, Sabres fans? Should the Buffalo Sabres look to trade Chris Stewart or is the team better off with Stewart in the fold?