By Comparison: Chris Stewart Will Be The One
St.Louis Blues Correspondent Jeff Quirin takes a look at Chris Stewart and his future with the franchise.
There were many holes in the St. Louis Blues organization identified when the Dave Checketts, John Davidson and Larry Pleau rebuilding era began.
1. Organizational depth to counter injuries and free agency churn.
2. Offense from the blueline.
3. Long term goaltending solution.
4. A defensive anchor.
5. An offensive workhorse.
Many have proven difficult to appropriately address. Erik Johnson couldn’t execute and reach the industry standard expectations of a 1st overall selection. Erasing the check marks from numbers 2 and 4. Injures have greatly tested the depth and as the Blues record shows, improved drafting outcomes aren’t ready to show the full return on investment. But that time is coming soon as current General Manager Doug Armstrong retools the lineup. Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jaroslav Halak have helped to cover items 2 and 3. Roman Polak has at times adequately filled number 4, but the search goes on for a top level shut down defender.
With band-aids in place and some about ready to be removed, the last gap, the most glaring of them all, has been filled.
Since forward Chris Stewart was obtained from the Colorado Avalanche all he has done is produce points. More importantly, he’s put buried the puck behind opposing netminders with ruthless efficiency. To the tune of 15 goals and 23 points in 25 games. Including 5 multi-goal efforts.
The hockey world (and Blues fans) already knew about his prowess long before the trade. Since 2008 Stewart had been pure kryptonite to the Note. The greatest Blues killer netted 8 goals and registered 17 points in 9 career games against the Note. Goals coming virtually every way imaginable. Power moves to the net, deflections, quick snap shots flying down the wing. You name a way of scoring and he’s done it or come very close against his new club.
With such diversity in his finishing ability combined with the rare blend of size, speed, and skill, (and willingness to drop the mitts) comparisons to two future Hall of Fame power forwards are inevitable. Former Blue, Brendan Shanahan and current Calgary Flames captain, Jarome Iginla.
By the Numbers:
Shanahan: 59 goals in 206 games | .286 goals/game.
Iginla: 62 goals in 234 games | .265 goals/game.
Stewart: 62 goals in 179 games | .346 goals/game.
Don’t care for the Hall of Fame comparisons? How about some similar, “younger” players over their first three full seasons.
Corey Perry: 59 goals in 138 games | .428 goals/game.
Milan Lucic: 34 goals in 199 games | .171 goals/game.
David Backes: 54 goals in 203 games | .266 goals/game.
Brooks Laich: 36 goals in 228 games | .158 goals/game.
Alex Burrows: 22 goals in 206 games | .106 goals/game.
James Neal: 73 goals in 224 games | .326 goals/game.
A pretty respectable group Stewart has surpassed or have kept a close pace to. But stats can’t tell the whole story.
Lighting the lamp and being a reliable fabricator of offense takes more than talent and skill. The mental toughness to grind out every game and the will to win are just as much a requirement. There is no better example of will + skill = results than when Sidney Crosby decided he needed to score more goals. All the proof needed to say Stewart is cut from the same “I’ve got the will to succeed” mold comes in Jeremy Rutherford’s article. Where the Blues beat writer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch covers where Stewart came from and what he has fought through to make it to the NHL. A hard working guy from humble beginnings makes his way to the big show. How can St. Louis fans not buy in to the hype with a guy like that? Especially when Stanley Cup winning defenseman Adam Foote said “‘This [Stewart] is the future captain”.
What the future holds for the Toronto native is unknown. Given who was sent packing to acquire his services, Stewart will be a long term center piece in Armstrong’s vision of the Blues. Every opportunity to develop in to what what the numbers say he could be will be his. If this season’s 26 game glimpse in to what Stewart can achieve becomes the norm, the Blues have found their offensive workhorse.