NHL Trade Rumors: Will Chris Stewart Be Next on the Rumor Mill?

Steven ConklinCorrespondent IIDecember 1, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 23:  Paul Martin #7 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chris Stewart #25 of the St. Louis Blues battle for position in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 23, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Blues won 3-2.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Now over a quarter of the way through the 2011-2012 season, the hockey world has already seen its share of big names being tossed around in trade speculation.

Rumors of star forwards Zach Parise and Bobby Ryan have kept us all excited for the possible moves in advance of the trade deadline in February. 

Corey Schneider of Vancouver is also starting to get more attention, as many believe that Vancouver will trade their second netminder. With the struggles of Luongo and the success of Schneider, Schneider's stock has raised dramatically around the league.

In the next few months, we will hear plenty of names being flung around and hockey fans everywhere will be posting dream trades for their teams to make or throwing out ideas.

How about I start?

This season, young forwards seem to be a trend on the trade market. I believe the next one we'll hear about is Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues

The 6'2", 230-pound power-forward was traded to St. Louis from Colorado very close to last season's deadline. 

The Blues also received rising star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in return for former-No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson and veteran Jay McClement. 

After a hot start with St. Louis, Stewart has fallen down to Earth. In his 26 games with the Blues last year, Stewart had 23 points and just 15 penalty minutes.

This year, Stewart has just seven points in 21 games and already has 44 penalty minutes. 

Regardless, the Blues are playing well. Currently fifth in the West, the team is the best in the league defensively and it appears that this is no fluke. 

The St. Louis Blues should trade the 24-year-old winger for two reasons. 

First, Stewart is going to be a restricted free agent after the year. His salary ($2.8 million) is surely going to be increased. He is worth it, but T.J. Oshie and David Perron are more valuable. Oshie and Perron will both need new deals after the year and are key to the young nucleus in St. Louis. 

The Blues could realistically afford Stewart as well, but that would limit the team's ability to re-sign defensemen Carlo Coliacovo, Barrett Jackman and goalie Brian Elliott. 

Second, there will undoubtedly be a team that overvalues Stewart's services and would award the Blues nicely. A young team like the Islanders could be in the market for the power-forward. 

General Manager Doug Armstrong should try to get whatever he can for Stewart, as his absence would by no means cripple the organization. 

The team will still have Kevin Shattenkirk from last year's deal, and he has been phenomenal alongside potential All-Star Alex Pietrangelo. Also, the Blues could quickly replace Stewart. The team is plentiful in the forward department, excluding whatever they would get in return for Stewart. 

The smart move would be to deal the forward and get what they can before his presence hampers the Blues' ability to re-sign the rest of their young, key guys.

Personally, I really don't believe Chris Stewart will see March in a Blues jersey and won't be surprised if we start hearing his name on the rumor mill sooner than later. 

Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined B/R in October 2011 and will be a B/R intern starting in January. Any comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome.

Other Articles by Steven:

NHL First Quarter Awards

Bobby Ryan Fitting for Blues

Perron's Return Will Boost St. Louis

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