After spending last season playing in the EIHL, Chris Stewart has made it back to the best league in the world. The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Stewart to a one-year, one-way contract and are expected to have him in the lineup tonight when they take on the Calgary Flames. Stewart’s deal carries an average annual value of $750K though the actual year-long cap hit will be slightly higher given he signed it in-season.
Stewart, 31, played most of last season for the Nottingham Panthers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom, scoring 13 points in 23 games. It may be hard to remember after his last few NHL seasons that were spent bouncing around the league, but Stewart was once one of the most feared power forwards in the game. Scoring 28 goals in consecutive seasons during the early part of his career, he was an absolute force in front of the net and could protect the puck extremely well with his huge frame. His touch around the net has never really left—Stewart still carries a career 82-game average of more than 20 goals—but it’s hard to expect much of anything else at this point in his career.
For the Flyers, squeezing some bottom-six time and perhaps a few goals out of Stewart is all they will need for such a small investment. Bringing him in on a professional tryout and now signing him to a near-minimum deal means that anything he contributes is a bonus.
The team is currently 2-0-1 on the year and has young players brimming with potential waiting for their chance, but will use a veteran like Stewart to first give them some more depth in the NHL and keep those youngsters ripe in the minor leagues.