Chris Stewart announced through Twitter that he has signed a two-year extension with the St. Louis Blues. The forward had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 22nd, but the Blues and Stewart were able to reach an agreement prior to the hearing.
Stewart's announcement can be seen in the Tweet below:
On the eve of my wedding in proud to announce that I will be spending the next 2 yrs in STL.... #bluesssssss— chris stewart (@CstewSTL25) July 19, 2013
Congratulations to Stewart on his new deal and on his upcoming wedding.
Stewart's deal is believed to be worth $4.1 million in 2013-14 and $4.2 in 2014-15. Stewart receives a decent raise compared to the $3 million he earned in 2012-13. Stewart led the Blues in points (38) and in goals scored (18) during the abbreviated season.
Is this a strong deal for the Blues? Definitely. It's believed Stewart wanted a longer deal worth more money (some reports say he turned down a deal comparable to Oshie's five-year, $20.8 million contract), but he ended up agreeing to a two-year deal worth just over $4 million a season.
Keeping Stewart for close to $4 million a year is outstanding. I thought it might take $4.5 million or more to keep Stewart in the mix, so to see him fall under that mark is a welcome surprise. There was even some concern that Stewart might fetch around $5 million a year, a salary which might have made it difficult to sign Alex Pietrangelo, Jake Allen and the newly acquired Magnus Paajarvi to new contracts.
Stewart deserved a raise. However, he would have been a risky player to sign to a long-term deal considering his inconsistent play over the last few years. Stewart's deal is a slightly larger "prove yourself" deal which would still allow him to cash in if he's able to build on his mostly successful 2012-13.
As usual, Doug Armstrong works his magic. It almost seems like clockwork at this point. Fans and pundits think a guy's going to get a contract that'll blow the Blues finances out of the water, get out of line with the rest of their contract structure, so on, and so forth. And then Armstrong comes along and either gets them in one of his patented "Prove Yourself" deals, or locks 'em up with a bit of term for less than folks generally expected. This looks like a bit of a mix of both. It does carry Stewart to his UFA years, which means if he can keep up the improvement and the production, he's set to cash in on his next contract. But at the same time, it keeps his cost very reasonable for a team that's now trying to squeeze the last few pieces in under the cap, and doesn't break the bank for the next two years.
@miendiem I know some fans aren't too happy with the fact this deal carries into his UFA years, but I don't mind it. I think a one-year deal might have cost the Blues a bit more money and with this deal they'd still have the opportunity to sign him before the UFA topic is even an issue.
@David Rogers Agreed. If Stewart can stick with his commitment and continue to play at a pace that leads the team in scoring, there's no reason that he/his agent and Army can't get busy talking extension with some heft to it after the first year of this is up. I suppose part of the question is, is Chris Stewart one of those players who doesn't go for the whole "negotiating a contract during the season" thing, in which case there would be a bit of a time-limit on it if there wasn't an extension done after year one.
Still, nothing that really needs to be worried about for about a year at the least, now. As with everything else Doug Armstrong does, I have a sneaking suspicion that this will work out just fine for the team.
@David Rogers That's actually a really intriguing hypothetical. Personally, I think it boils down to this: How close are the Blues after next year? Does Stewart becoming a prime, if not necessarily elite, scorer make the Blues a serious deep playoff threat? If so, they don't have a whole lot of choice but to try to hold onto him. If they don't make significant progress next year, and Stewart has that "everything clicks" year, can they afford to turn him into new pieces?
This is certainly just my own opinion, but I don't think the Blues really have the option to give up on Stewart if he has a year where he puts it together better than he already has. How does the team explain "We gave up on our leading scorer because..."? Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that reek of the post-2004 lockout implosion? Sure, the situation with ownership would be different, but in the nature of showing commitment to the fans, I just don't see how it can be done without alienating plenty of them.
@miendiem Here's a hypothetical question I've been thinking about: Let's pretend Stewart goes out in 2013-14 and has an outstanding season. Everything clicks. Let's say 35 goals and 65-75 points. For the Blues, this really would be an outstanding campaign given the offense.
What do you do next? Do you negotiate after 2013-14 knowing he's in the final year of his deal? Do you wait to see if it's a fluke?
Do you trade him? I don't know why I'm thinking about this, but I think it's because he received a two-year deal when I expected another one-year deal.