Hockey received a shot in the arm Friday, as the NHL sent the NHLPA a new CBA proposal to get a season started. The NHLPA is expected to counter Saturday, but hockey fans are once again optimistic that hockey will be seen in 2013.
Stewart came over to the Blues from the Colorado Avalanche in a blockbuster trade at the deadline in 2011. Stewart was seen as the major piece the Blues were receiving, while the Avalanche were getting former first pick Erik Johnson. Kevin Shattenkirk, Jay McClement and two first-round draft picks were also exchanged in the trade.
Fast forward to 2012, and the Blues have completely won the trade. Shattenkirk has become the biggest star of the trade, and Stewart has fallen into the limelight, mostly because of his plummet in production.
Stewart's 2010-2011 campaign was the best of his short career. Playing in 62 games, Stewart scored 28 goals and 53 points. During his time with the Blues, he put up 23 points in 26 games and was a major factor for the team down the stretch. His play in St. Louis showed that he could be a big-name player, and he could be another piece of the young core for the Blues to build around.
2011-2012 was not so kind to Stewart.
Stewart only managed to put up 30 points in 79 games, nearly half of what he put up in 2010. Some of that can be contributed to a "sophomore slump" if you will, or just teams paying a lot more attention to him than they used to. Some of it could also be the switch from an offensive-minded Davis Payne to defensive-minded Ken Hitchcock. But the majority of the blame lies with Stewart himself.
Whenever there is hockey played, Stewart should be able to put up better numbers than he did in 2011.
A year under Hitchcock's system allows him to modify his game in order to get the production the team gets out of him. Standing at 6'2", 232 lbs, Stewart is more than capable of getting into the gritty areas and digging out a puck, or getting garbage goals in front of the net. The offseason will allow him to modify his game and get comfortable with being a gritty, two-way forward.
So will Stewart ever better his 2010-2011 stats? The logical answer is yes. Stewart still hasn't entered the prime of his career, and during his 2010-2011 season, he showed that he can be a big-name player.
The better question is if his best numbers will be with the Blues. During a shortened season, his numbers could be on pace to better his 2010-2011 numbers if there was a full season, but they will not match it. But if he does not contribute like the Blues want him to, he may be trade bait and have his best numbers in a different sweater.