Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Montreal Canadiens Trade Deadline Target: St. Louis' Chris Stewart

Chris Stewart - St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils
After focusing on the Montreal Canadiens' potential bait, namely Travis Moen and the recently departed Hal Gill, our trade deadline preview turns its attention towards potential targets for GM Pierre Gauthier.

As alluded to by Bryan Willey, winger Chris Stewart is having a difficult season under new St. Louis Blues' coach Ken Hitchcock and could be on the move.

Given his size and skill set, he could be exactly the type of player the Habs would love to add to their lineup.

Why he could be traded - After emerging as a legitimate power forward with back-to-back 28 goal campaigns, Stewart has seen his stock tumble and now finds himself firmly entrenched in Ken Hitchcock's doghouse.

Compared to last season, his average overall ice time has dropped by nearly 90 seconds and his powerplay utilization has also fallen by about a minute per game.

As of this writing, he is pointless in his last six games and is on pace for a mere 15 goals. In a recent contest against the New York Islanders, he was demoted to the fourth line and played just over 13 minutes.

In short, Stewart's decreasing role with the Blues has fed the belief that he could be made available.

Why the Canadiens could be interested - In spite of his recent struggles, there is little doubt that Stewart fills the stereotypical portfolio of a power forward.

At 6-2, 230 pounds, he is not lacking for size. And, as his hit per game average demonstrates, he is willing to use it.

Beyond his enticing frame, Stewart is still quite young at 24 years old and has the ability to be a consistent 25 goal scorer in the NHL.

Having said that, he has already played for two teams and appears to be headed out of St. Louis as well. As a result, there are some potential red flags about Stewart's attitude and work ethic.

While these concerns are perhaps not deal breakers, Montreal does not have the best track record with perceived problem players.

In the end, the question is whether the Canadiens can provide the proper environment for Stewart to succeed.

Nonetheless, with the possible departure of Andrei Kostitsyn and the irregular contributions of Rene Bourque, the Toronto native could fit nicely on one of the Habs' top two lines.

What he could be worth - A combination of two of the following: first round pick, first round prospect, top-six forward, top-four defenceman

It is hard to get a proper read on a young , high ceiling winger like Chris Stewart. But, in spite of his struggles, it is clear that he will not be had cheaply.

Last year, perpetual underachiever Dustin Penner went from Edmonton to Los Angeles in return for a first round pick and Colton Teubert.

Two seasons ago, the far less impressive Wojtek Wolski was sent to Phoenix for Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.

Evidently, to pry Stewart away from St. Louis, a similar, if not better, package will need to be presented.

Louis is an Associate Editor at and an Editor at Born in Chicago, Louis grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval.

He currently resides in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. Find him on twitter

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images North America)


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