Chris Stewart led the St. Louis Blues in scoring this past, lockout-shortened season, scoring 18 goals and a total of 36 points. A Restricted Free Agent, Stewart and the Blues have been unable to come to terms this off-season on a new contract so the winger is headed to Salary Arbitration.
With his hearing set for July 22 in Toronto, Stewart, according to StLToday.com’s Jeremy Rutherford, figures to cash in on a deal somewhere between the $5 million he wants and the $4 million the Blues are interested in paying him. I’m not so sure Stewart should get such a raise from the $3 million he made last year, are you?
In 153 games with St. Louis, Stewart has netted 48 goals and 89 points, with last year being a significant increase in production from his only full season as a Blue (2011-12) when he only managed 15 goals in 79 games. He’d come to camp last year in much better shape than the year before but he had more to play for. It was one of those proving-ground type of years and while he scored at a higher clip, was it really the help the Blues needed from him?
In 13 career post-season games as a Blue, Stewart has just 2 goals and 3 points on 30 shots, with a -1 rating. This past Spring, in the disappointing 1st Round loss to the Los Angeles Kings he managed only the 1 assist in six games. For much of that series he was invisible. Is this the kind of guy St. Louis needs to be paying top dollar for? Is it fair for him to be asking for a raise when he completely bailed out when the team needed him most?
The problem with professional sports is that there’s so much profit coming in from TV, ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and merchandising that teams are paying players more and more money. Big Business is ruining sports of all kinds, from hockey to football to baseball…are there other sports? I digress.
In 2013 we’ve already seen guys like Ryane Clowe and David Clarkson signing deals worth $4.85 and $5.25 million respectively. That sets the bar a little higher for Stewart’s contract. They’ve both been around a bit longer than Stewart and perhaps have proven themselves to be more consistent, though neither is exactly blowing the doors off any scoring titles. They’re relatively average goal scorers in the NHL, but they have roughly Stewart’s size and speed, which is to say the proto-typical “power forward” that’s coveted in the modern league.
The best the Blues can hope for from arbitration with Stewart is another 1-year deal at probably $4-4.5 million. If he can show he’s capable of playing every night at a higher level and displays a desire to remain a Blue, maybe Doug Armstrong then gives him that multi-year deal worth the $5+ million/per, but quite frankly, I don’t think Stewart’s earned those kind of dollars yet. The Blues needed him to step up and help them beat the Kings, and he flat-out failed.
What kind of money do YOU think Stewart will get? How much do you think he should make?
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!