At this point of the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres season, many have turned the bulk of their attention toward the trade rumors buzzing around all 30 National Hockey League teams.
With each day passed, precious time ticks away. General managers actively trying to add those final pieces to their respective puzzles, in an attempt to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
This thought was confirmed, just a few days ago, when the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres swung the massive deal that sent Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers, along with prospects to Winnipeg.
Later that afternoon, GM Tim Murray’s phone rang again, and it did not take him long to make his second deal.
Murray sent Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars, a team desperately in need of consistency in net.
Three players, all of whom had been mentioned in trade rumors this season, have been shipped off to other cities, in hopes that they are the answer to what puts their respective team over the hump.
As for who remains? Take a look at the list of impending unrestricted free agents: Torrey Mitchell, Patrick Kaleta, Andrej Meszaros, Tyson Strachan, Andre Benoit, and Chris Stewart.
In his post-trade press conference, Tim Murray told the Buffalo media that he would not shy away dealing one of these aforementioned players for market value, if he did not see them in the franchise’s future plans.
While any of the six names mentioned could be an x-factor for another franchise, Chris Stewart appears to be the most important trade chip currently on this roster.
There only seems to be one problem with Stewart: his play is VERY enigmatic.
Stewart, a former first-round pick, said to have the talent to be one of the top power forwards in all of the National Hockey League.
Stewart started off the 2014-15 season very poorly, with 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in his first 27 games.
Could that be because of his surrounding teammates? Certainly.
Could the problem be with Stewart himself? Also a possiblilty.
Stewart’s play slacked off so badly, he ended up being a healthy scratch against the Los Angeles Kings in December.
Following a heated argument with Ted Nolan, Stewart was asked about his enigmatic season, and he subsequently shouldered a large amount of the blame for not playing to his potential.
“I could’ve made excuses and said, ‘You know what, he’s wrong, he’s pointing the finger at me’ or, I said, ‘I could take it on the chin like a man and take a look in the mirror and realize that I wasn’t playing to my potential,’ which is true.”– Chris Stewart to Bill Hoppe, of Olean Herald Journal
Since the healthy scratch, Stewart has turned his entire season around.
In the last 26 games, Stewart has tallied 18 points (6 goals, 12 assists).
The scoring resurgence has also revived Stewart’s trade value. Multiple teams have reportedly contacted Sabres’ General Manager Tim Murray, inquiring on the asking price for Stewart’s services.
When Chris Stewart was originally acquired less than a year ago, nobody expected him to stick around longer than his contract necessitated. Stewart’s aforementioned resurgence coupled with a hot trade market, could ultimately pay dividends for the Sabres organization.