It looked as though the St. Louis Blues and restricted free agent forward Chris Stewart were headed towards arbitration as the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a contract for next season and possibly beyond.
Stewart seemed to be in the driver’s seat in these negotiations. After seeing the contracts given to Ryane Clowe (five years, $24.25 million to the New Jersey Devils) and Nathan Horton (seven years, $37 million to the Columbus Blue Jackets), Stewart had to be salivating.
Stewart’s 18 goal and 36 point season in 48 games for the Blues last year was more productive than both Clowe and Horton and after seeing those two forwards cash in, one would have thought that Stewart would like to break the bank too.
Instead, Doug Armstrong comes away looking brilliant once again, signing the power-forward to a reasonable, cost effective contract extension that leaves the team in a good position financially, gives Stewart some money, and incents the 25-year old to put up two huge years to he can really cash in once he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
At $4.125 million per year, Stewart is a bargain when compared to the over $5 million per year the Devils are going to pay Clowe and the Blue Jackets will pay Horton. Clowe had just three goals and 19 points in 40 games last season. Meanwhile, Horton had just 13 goals and 22 points.
Stewart is obviously the better player of the trio and came at a lower price. Plus, Armstrong did not have to commit the years either.
Stewart likely would have won his arbitration case and taken home north of $5 million next season if left in a judge’s hands.
Many Blues fans had hoped the team would ink a legitimate sniper. Someone who can find the back of the net on a consistent basis.
Stewart has shown flashes of being that type of player in the past and with what Armstrong did in bringing in play-making center Derek Roy, Stewart could be poised to have a huge season.
Stewart has never played with a passer like Roy and if the two are paired together as many believe, Stewart should see first-line minutes and many more scoring chances.
Armstrong is one of, if not the best general manager in hockey. This was a great move and he should be applauded for getting this done.
The table is set for Chris Stewart to have a big season and now we should be able to see, with his wallet heavy, just how much he will be able to capitalize when playing alongside a center than can feed him the puck.
- Chris Stewart agrees to a two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues (stlsportsminute.com)
- St. Louis Blues: Jori Lehtera’s decision to stay in KHL is big missed opportunity for Blues (stlsportsminute.com)
- Should the St. Louis Blues pursue Danny Briere? (stlsportsminute.com)
- St. Louis Blues take shot at San Jose Sharks with “Sharknado” reference on Twitter (stlsportsminute.com)