Blues Agree to Two-Year Deal with Stewart

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 1:12 PM / St Louis Blues - News
By Louie Korac  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Blues Agree to Two-Year Deal with Stewart
The Blues have agreed to a two-year contract with forward Chris Stewart.

ST. LOUIS -- With Chris Stewart's arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday, he and the St. Louis Blues shifted gears into overdrive to get a deal done.

It happened Friday afternoon on the eve of his wedding when Stewart and the Blues agreed to a two-year contract.

The right wing is coming off a season when he led the Blues in goals (18) and points (36) in 48 games.

"He's a player, and I've said this to Chris, and I truly believe this: For us to be a good team, we need Chris to be a good player," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said via conference call.

The 25-year-old Toronto native has 100 goals and 202 points in 319 NHL games, including 48 goals and 89 points in 153 games with the Blues. Stewart was part of a trade in 2011 that saw the Blues also acquire defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Erik Johnson.

Stewart has seen peaks and valleys in the League since entering in 2008. He was the 18th pick in the 2006 NHL Draft.

"I think we'd probably like to smooth out the rough edges, as I'm sure Chris would," Armstrong said. "When you look at the totality of his time here, he came here and played very well. The second season wasn't great (15 goals, 15 assists in 79 games). Last year, the point total was at the top of our team, but there's maybe bigger ebbs and flows within the season. I think consistency is the mark of a good team, and then consistency is ultimately the mark of a very good player.

"I appreciate the statistics that he puts up, but at the end of the day, that's his yearly numbers and those are very strong -- the best on our team. But we'd like all of our players to have less peaks and valleys and more of a steady game. That [way], we're going to know what we're going to get every night."

The Blues were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games by the Los Angeles Kings. Stewart had one assist.

"Probably the last three weeks and the playoffs, he was like a lot of our players that the puck just wasn't going in the net, and for a player that you look to get that job accomplished, he probably got a little bit more of my focus on why [he's] not scoring because that's his job responsibility," Armstrong said. "But basically, he was in a group of players that did that."

The Blues were in a similar position with right wing T.J. Oshie a year ago when the sides came to an agreement on a five-year deal on the eve of Oshie's arbitration hearing. Stewart and the team were expected to trade arbitration briefings Saturday.

"The NHL by nature is a deadline league, trade deadline or draft or arbitrations," Armstrong said. "Both sides were in discussion. We finally came to common ground knowing we were going to have to board flights tonight and exchange briefs in the morning. Any time you have to exchange the briefs, the player has to put his best foot forward in his comparable group that probably is outside the realm of what we're comfortable with. For us to have a chance to get an award we're comfortable with, you have to really dig into some of the negative parts of a player. ...

"I think this was a fair deal for both parties. Obviously Chris would have liked a little more and we would have liked a little less, so that indicates to me that it's probably fair."

The sides came to the conclusion that a two-year deal would benefit each. Stewart can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season, when he's 27 and can cash in if the next two seasons go well for him. For the Blues, it gives them a full season to negotiate a longer-term contract while watching Stewart's progression in the system.

"There's two ways to look at it," Armstrong said. "One, we could have taken a one-year award. The issue that sometimes comes into play is then you have to sign the player to a longer-term deal one year out. You're almost paying him as an unrestricted free agent that year."

"Right now, what we do is we have a two-year award, but next July 1 both parties can engage in a long-term contract which is just strictly unrestricted years. I think the two-year award allows us to have a full year to negotiate the UFA years without having to go through this process of signing him as a UFA a year in advance or doing a one-year deal and then giving yourself only six months to sign him to a UFA contract.

"This allows [Chris] to come in and know that everything's in place for two years knowing that if he has a good year and the team has a good year, we can start talking about an extension that's exclusively for UFA years."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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