Chris Stewart‘s performance during the 2011-12 season was disappointing to more than just himself. The Blues front office wouldn’t reward complacency with a long term deal in hopes of a turnaround. Stewart would receive the “Oshie” treatment. A one year deal which symbolically asks for the play to prove themselves to earn their payday.
Are you taking notes on how a good GM manages and builds a team, Scott Howson?
Certainly Doug Armstrong and the coaching staff wants to see the guy they traded Erik Johnson for succeed and become the second wave of brute force barreling down on opposing defensemen after David Backes. If Stewart’s dedication to getting in shape over the summer and two goal outburst in Saturday’s home opener are any indication that he took the prove me challenge to heart and will recover, the new local ownership will be opening their pocketbooks quite wide.
Just how wide?
That’s hard to tell given the shrinking salary cap and how contract term limits will impact the open market. Like his current linemate Patrik Berglund, Stewart will be a restricted free agent come July 1st. Not much leverage from the player perspective.
That said, David Perron and TJ Oshie both received deals in excess of 4 years and $20 million. Is Stewart a safe bet for the same? It’s quite possible and the new contract Joffrey Lupul agreed to on Sunday may be a blueprint.
The Toronto Maple Leafs gave the 29 year old winger a 5 year deal with an AAV of $5.25 million.
How are they comparable?
Both are key figures in their respective teams offense, but neither are THE go to guy. In Toronto there’s Phil Kessel. In St. Louis there is Andy McDonald. Neither are the lone power presence. The leafs have James van Riemsdyk and the Blues have Backes and Berglund. Promising young scoring threats are coming on to each roster. Nazim Kadri for the Leafs and the 2010 draft pick combo of Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko for the Blues. Though both players are seemingly reliable 20 goal scorers, both have had only one major run of offensive dominance.
In terms of numbers…
Goals per Game: Lupul .29 | Stewart .31
Goals Created per Game: Both .25
Points per Game: Lupul .63 | Stewart .62
Shots per Game: Lupul 2.65 | Stewart 2.40
By no means will these similarities guarantee a similar contract. Keep in mind that Lupul would have been a UFA and Stewart restricted. However, the going rate for goal scoring services around the NHL will keep the value high. Potentially one less year and a slightly lower AAV? We shall see. Hopefully Stewart continues scoring goals at a breakneck pace to force Armstrong to make the difficult decision of how much to pay the big guy.