It was only a matter of time before Chris Stewart trade rumors started to surface. After he played a season-low 5:32 against the New York Islanders this weekend and was demoted to the fourth line for Tuesday’s contest against the New Jersey Devils, it is now being reported that the New York Rangers are kicking tires on the 26-year-old forward.
Western Conf teams suggest the Rangers are gathering intel on Chris Stewart. Callahan for Stewart would be a sweet deal for the Blues.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 31, 2014
This is an interesting statement by Darren Dreger because the Ryan Callahan for Stewart deal seems like speculation on his part. While it would make sense for the Rangers to be doing some scouting on Stewart if they were looking to make a move for him, whether or not it’d be a “sweet deal for the Blues” depends on which type of forward you prefer.
Stewart and Callahan are both known commodities at this stage of their careers. The former is a mildly inconsistent goal scorer that appears lackadaisical in his play at times, while the latter is a born leader that leaves it all out on the ice every single night. If the Blues are looking to swap out goals for presence, then this proposed deal certainly makes sense.
Ken Hitchcock is a coach that traditionally has been a more defensive oriented guy. His systems boosted Steve Mason to a Calder Trophy with the Columbus Blue Jackets and make Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen seem a bit better than they really are. The 2013-14 season has been an odd one for Hitchcock, in that St. Louis has one of the best offenses in the league.
Scoring an average of 3.36 goals per game, only the Chicago Blackhawks post more tallies more often than the Blues—love them or hate them, that’s some elite company.
Since Stewart is used almost exclusively as a goal scorer, he’s a forward that the Blues could afford to give up if they’re looking for a more well-rounded player like Callahan. No other player on the team plays more sheltered minutes than Stewart, and no forward sees a higher percentage of offensive zone starts.
You can look at that positively or negatively, since Stewart’s goals-per-60 is a rock solid 1.13. Only Alexander Steen scores more often per 60 minutes played. The argument can be made that Stewart is incredibly inconsistent in his play, but the tallies are there regardless of how he looks out on the ice. Sometimes he’s a ghost, but at other times he looks like the most outstanding offensive force on the team.
Callahan would give the Blues another look all together.
He sees less offensive zone starts than Stewart and faces tougher competition on average in New York. That defensive prowess comes at a cost, however. Callahan’s goals-per-60 doesn’t hold a candle to the current Blues forward, sitting at 0.45.
For a New York team that shoots more than all but three teams in the NHL but scores goals at a clip that puts them near the bottom-third of the league, adding a scorer like Stewart makes a ton of sense. Tack on the fact that Callahan’s current contract will expire at the end of this season while Stewart will still have a season left on his, and things really get interesting.
So would a one-for-one swap of Stewart for Callahan be “sweet” for the Blues? Perhaps, but that isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be a boost for the Rangers as well. If anything, this would be a good ol’ fashioned hockey trade, where both teams end up getting something that could help them this season.
Where the scales could tip in favor of the Blueshirts would be next year. If Stewart continues to evolve as a player and becomes more consistent, he’s the kind of guy that St. Louis could truly regret letting go a bit too soon. You’ve got to give to get in the NHL though, and this is an intriguing little piece of gossip to chew on throughout the weekend.