Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart frequently popped up in the rumor mill this week as a possible trade candidate. Stewart, who turns 27 on October 30, is earning $4.2 million this season (with a cap hit of $4.15 million) and becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
On Sunday, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed “lots of teams” are interested to see what Sabres GM Tim Murray will do with Stewart, fellow UFA winger Drew Stafford and defenseman Tyler Myers, who’s under contract through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.
Garrioch noted the Ottawa Senators were interested in Stewart last season, but the Sabres asking price was “Mark Stone or some other high-end prospect.” If that price hasn’t changed, Garrioch doubts the Senators will do it.
Earlier this week it was suggested in this column Stewart might be a good fit with the Boston Bruins, who are struggling this season to replace Jarome Iginla as their first-line right wing. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Bruins are indeed interested in Stewart, though he didn’t indicate if offers had been exchanged.
Assuming Murray seeks the same return as he reportedly did from the Senators (high-end prospect) for Stewart, he could have interest in center Ryan Spooner, goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Joe Morrow or right wing David Pastrnak. The Bruins, however, currently possess $3.759 million in cap space, meaning the Sabres must either pick up nearly half of Stewart’s remaining salary or take on a salaried roster player in return.
It’s doubtful Murray will be interested in any of the Bruins potential UFA players. Chris Kelly‘s name has been mentioned as a trade candidate, but he’s a third-line center with a modified no-trade clause signed through 2015-16 at a cap hit of $3 million.
There’s no need for Murray to rush into trading Stewart, Stafford or Myers. He can simply allow this season to play out in hopes the market value for the trio improves leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.
FLIGHTLESS FLYERS SEEK BLUELINE HELP
For the second straight season the Philadelphia Flyers are off to a poor start. With only one victory in their first six games, there’s concern over the state of the Flyers defensive play. They’re 21st in shots-against per game (30.9) and possess the third-most goals-against per game (3.71) and fourth-worst in penalty-kill percentage (73.7).
Flyers GM Ron Hextall has limited cap space ($1.48 million) to bolster his defense. He’s reportedly seeking a defensive blueliner but the pickings are currently slim. Those mentioned in recent trade rumors – Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, Detroit’s Jakub Kindl and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry – aren’t considered shutdown defensemen.
It could cost Hextall one of his good young forwards to acquire a skilled stay-at-home blueliner. CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio claims the price among interested teams is Brayden Schenn, who’s in the first season of a two-year contract at an annual cap hit of $2.5 million.