The Anaheim Ducks finally confirmed that they signed Chris Stewart to a one-year contract on Sunday, one day after word surfaced regarding a deal.
They didn’t provide the financial details, so we’ll assume that it’s indeed a $1.7 million salary and cap hit as multiple reports suggest.
Most obviously, the Ducks are likely hoping that Stewart, 27, can help fill the void left behind by Matt Beleskey’s free agent departure. Stewart’s a power forward who can mix scoring and snarl, especially during his best moments.
It’s wise not to expect too much, as Stewart’s disappointed often enough that he even commented on the theme of offseason storylines revolving around possible rebounds last summer.
It’s fair to say that he has some scoring touch, but expecting him to approach his peak form (particularly back-to-back 28-goal seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11) could really increase the chances of a letdown.
Not much of a risk
Pessimists might see parallels between the Ducks picking up Dany Heatley off the scrap heap last summer.
Then again, in a way, that wouldn’t really be a disaster for anyone but Stewart. Heatley’s weak offering obviously didn’t do much to hurt Anaheim’s chances in 2014-15, and the Ducks aren’t taking a huge gamble in handing Stewart a one-year deal.
Instead, it’s a great opportunity for Stewart.
He can bolster his chances of getting a much better contract next time around, particularly if he can convince the Ducks to buck the growing trend of teams packaging Stewart in various trades. He’s still in his prime years, so it’s reasonable to ponder a strong year for the feisty forward, particularly if he gets lucky enough to skate with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry every now and then. Even if his linemates are weaker, Stewart gets to play in an aggressive system on a contending team. For all we know, this could be a sneaky bargain for GM Bob Murray.
(Uh oh, Stewart is roping us in again, isn’t he?)