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Is it too early to declare Chris Stewart is back?

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02-03-2013, 12:44 PM
  #1
2 Minute Minor
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Is it too early to declare Chris Stewart is back?

I'm pleased to admit that I was wrong about Chris Stewart. I was pretty skeptical that he was going to be an effective scoring line player on Hitchcock's team. I thought that his problem last season was primarily a lack of any hockey sense, and that he could only be successful on a free-wheeling offensive team with less structure. I also thought that he was giving a lot of effort last season, with little result.

Then came word that the dude lost 20 lbs in the offseason. I thought, "Wow, did he have that much to lose?" I was a little surprised at reports now that he was in that poor of shape last season. But he took his one-year contract and if he is ever going to have motivation, this is the season. For personal reasons and for team reasons (Cup contender) he should be supremely motivated.

And so far this season I've seen:

- The cycle doesn't end when the puck comes around to him on the boards. He's winning puck battles and he's putting the puck into open ice. (He hasn't been perfect, and I can think of at least one egregious error that led to a goal, but I can give any player a pass on a gaffe like that in the first week of the season.)

- I've noted him making good plays on the back-check multiple times. He broke up a scoring opportunity vs Detroit that was a really nice play, and something we usually see more from Oshie.

- He's playing within Hitchcock's system. He's putting the puck in deep when there's not an obvious pass. He's spending a lot of time muscling in front of the net, creating screens, and basically emulating Backes.

- He's regained his scoring confidence. Getting 2 goals in the first game was great for him, but I don't think it was a lucky coincidence. I think he's a talented guy with a great backhand and a nice wrist shot. He's a proven goal-scorer in the NHL with 28 goals 2 times already. He SHOULD be scoring goals. And now he seems to be playing with purpose and confidence. He actually looks at home on the line with Berglund.

I'm not going to over-react, but I'm of the opinion now that Stewart can be a good fit for the Blues, and that he's not dead weight they should be looking to deal. I don't see anything fluky about his early production, and see no reason he won't continue to score and be effective.

The one question remains, does he have a fundamental motivation problem that just finally was overcome when he was in danger of losing his NHL career (and his payday UFA contracts)? Or was he just in so bad of a funk last year? It was clear a lot of it was mental, but 20 lbs also speaks to something physical that was holding him back, too. Will he just have a nice rebound year and then settle back into a comfortable malaise while the weight creeps up and his production slides?

Not sure, but so far this season I'm pleased with what I'm seeing, and a little surprised.

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02-03-2013, 12:58 PM
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Simply put, yes. He's looked better, no doubt about that. He clearly has more speed, and is battling in the corners and using his body much more effectively. However, I want to see more. I want to see it for the whole(shortened) season, and then I'll start to believe it. Even still, I won't be convinced until he gets a multi year contract and still comes into camp in great shape, and battles hard. It's hard not to question his motivation in a contract year. If he performs well all season, puts up good numbers, and has realistic contract expectations(4 mil tops), then I'd bring him back. Anything other than that, I'd rather see the Blues explore other options.

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02-03-2013, 01:05 PM
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The guy is still only 25 hopefully he grew up this offseason/lockout

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02-03-2013, 01:33 PM
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The guy is still only 25 hopefully he grew up this offseason/lockout
That's pretty much what I am hoping as well. I am hoping he learned that he can't get by on just talent alone.

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02-03-2013, 01:41 PM
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He has improved greatly from last season but I think Stewart was better offensively two years ago right when he joined the Blues.

I'm still waiting to see more offensive flare in his game. Where are the hands that scored that amazing backhander in Columbus in 2011? I haven't seen those since. Last year his hands were a notch above Jamal Mayers'. This year they've only slightly improved. And his shot really hasn't been impressive at all. Most pucks are going right into the center of the goalie.

He is working harder, winning more puck battles, and is willing to park in front of the net again, but I think there is much more potential in him.

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02-03-2013, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Halak Ness Monster View Post
He has improved greatly from last season but I think Stewart was better offensively two years ago right when he joined the Blues.

I'm still waiting to see more offensive flare in his game. Where are the hands that scored that amazing backhander in Columbus in 2011? I haven't seen those since. Last year his hands were a notch above Jamal Mayers'. This year they've only slightly improved.
No…Stewart did the same exact backhand goal against Columbus last season except it wasn't in OT. His hands are fine...

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02-03-2013, 01:53 PM
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Yeah, it's too early. He produced well at his former weight in Colorado, so I don't expect his numbers to go up any on this team. If he sticks, I think he'll hover right around 25-30 goals, but he'll be a better all around player.

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02-03-2013, 01:56 PM
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His hands are fine...
Agree to disagree on that point.

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02-03-2013, 01:58 PM
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It is too early to say, but the early signs are promising.

If he does return to form, then we have a significant problem (albeit a welcome one) in the summer, unless we are suddenly going to be able to operate at a loss.

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02-03-2013, 02:04 PM
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Agree to disagree on that point.
It's not like his hands got worse. That's not something that really happens. He is probably utilizing them less because of Hitchcock.

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02-03-2013, 02:07 PM
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Stewart needs some assists. He has none this season. I'll judge after 10 more games. Also, I am fine with his current point production as long as he doesn't ask for 3 Million dollars per year during salary negotiations. I would maybe pay him 2.5 Million for putting up 50ish points per season with 20 goals. I'm not sure I expect 60 points anymore.

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02-03-2013, 02:09 PM
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It's a little early but he's definitley looking much better.

I'm excited to see if he can continue it.

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02-03-2013, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by OCTA8ON View Post
Stewart needs some assists. He has none this season. I'll judge after 10 more games. Also, I am fine with his current point production as long as he doesn't ask for 3 Million dollars per year during salary negotiations. I would maybe pay him 2.5 Million for putting up 50ish points per season with 20 goals. I'm not sure I expect 60 points anymore.
There's no way Stewart gets less than 3, especially if he has a good year. Someone would give him 3.75 or more on the open market.

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02-03-2013, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by OCTA8ON View Post
Stewart needs some assists. He has none this season. I'll judge after 10 more games. Also, I am fine with his current point production as long as he doesn't ask for 3 Million dollars per year during salary negotiations. I would maybe pay him 2.5 Million for putting up 50ish points per season with 20 goals. I'm not sure I expect 60 points anymore.
You won't ever get a 50 point player for 2.5 million really.

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02-03-2013, 02:30 PM
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I like that hes gotten his work ethic back but he's still weak along the boards. Don't mind having someone with his speed, size and net presence on our 3rd line tho.

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02-03-2013, 02:57 PM
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Okay, 3 million is the max I would pay him. Let's make this clear. There is no way we should be paying Chris Stewart more than Alex Steen if Stewart gets less than 60 points on a regular season.

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02-03-2013, 03:00 PM
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Okay, 3 million is the max I would pay him. Let's make this clear. There is no way we should be paying Chris Stewart more than Alex Steen if Stewart gets less than 60 points on a regular season.
As opposed to Perron, who has never hit 60 either? Stewart will get 3.5 or more from the Blues. More on the open market.

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02-03-2013, 03:02 PM
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As opposed to Perron, who has never hit 60 either? Stewart will get 3.5 or more from the Blues. More on the open market.
Just because a player can get more on the open market doesn't mean that player will automatically take that. Hell, Jackman could have gotten more on the open market. Stewart is a good guy that takes other things into consideration other than monetary benefits.

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02-03-2013, 03:03 PM
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As opposed to Perron, who has never hit 60 either? Stewart will get 3.5 or more from the Blues. More on the open market.
Perron was on pace for 60.42 points last season. He is on pace for even more this season. Just sayin.

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02-03-2013, 03:05 PM
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Whatever Stewart ends up getting paid, no way he gets paid more than Steen from Armstrong. End of story.

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02-03-2013, 03:05 PM
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Just because a player can get more on the open market doesn't mean that player will automatically take that. Hell, Jackman could have gotten more on the open market. Stewart is a good guy that takes other things into consideration other than monetary benefits.
I completely understand that, but you're suggesting he'll take a pay cut...I don't see that happening. His performance this year will dictate how much of a raise he gets, from the Blues or someone else.

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02-03-2013, 03:05 PM
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Yes I think so. He will continue to be mildly productive all season most likely. The only thing I disagree with is that, IMO he been the end of all the cycling on his line. I may be focusing in more on the bad plays he makes, but I think he makes a bad play for every good one. For as fast and big as he is, he still does not use his body at all, especially on the boards. The other thing I notice is that he doesn't skate with his head up enough and I think it would help him to make better passes. I still think he needs to improve if he wants to stay on the Blues.

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02-03-2013, 03:07 PM
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Perron was on pace for 60.42 points last season. He is on pace for even more this season. Just sayin.
I'm aware. I also predicted him to be the highest scoring forward this year, but he hasn't hit those numbers yet...Stewart on the other hand, has been much closer.

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02-03-2013, 03:09 PM
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I completely understand that, but you're suggesting he'll take a pay cut...I don't see that happening. His performance this year will dictate how much of a raise he gets, from the Blues or someone else.
Let me be a little more clear. If Stewart performs like he did last year, he won't be getting paid the same bucks as Steen, or Dustin Brown, or Michael Ryder. He needs significant improvement. Armstrong won't keep handing out these 3 Million dollar contracts until Stewart DOES end up improving.

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02-03-2013, 03:12 PM
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I'm aware. I also predicted him to be the highest scoring forward this year, but he hasn't hit those numbers yet...Stewart on the other hand, has been much closer.
I like Stewart's game a lot so far this year, but I'm going to give 10-20 more games before I really start judging. I just need a bigger sample size to work with, other than 8.

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