The Minnesota Wild have one of the most interesting forward groups in the NHL. General Manager Chuck Fletcher still wanted to add a few more weapons at the trade deadline though, as evidenced by his trade for Chris Stewart.
Stewart has been a part of the rumor mill for the last season, with the Buffalo Sabres asking for a prospect and pick since last year’s trade deadline. They lowered that asking price in an attempt to move the forward, and found a taker with the Wild.
Fletcher had already made one deal to bring a forward to the State of Hockey. He traded for Sean Bergenheim last week, and the former Florida Panther has seen time on the top line alongside Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek. Stewart gives head coach Mike Yeo yet another option to play with, and it will be interesting to see how the lines shake out ahead of the playoffs.
Granted the Wild make the postseason. That’s what makes these deals so intriguing. Minnesota is currently in a Wild Card spot, but only by three points. Stewart will be a UFA this summer, making him a bit of a risky add for Fletcher. Missing the postseason would be a bit of a disaster for a Wild team that advanced to the Conference Semifinals last season.
The biggest question at this point is a matter of line shuffling. Minnesota’s fourth line of Erik Haula, Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine has been clicking lately, perhaps making Jordan Schroeder the odd man out. A third line of Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Stewart might be in the cards, and it’s tough not to like that looks of that group.
A trio with that kind of size and skill could create matchup issues for a handful of potentially playoff bound teams.
Regardless of where Stewart ends up in the lineup, the Sabres have now fully tanked out. They’ve traded a goalie that was actually stopping pucks and are all in on Connor McDavid. In case that wasn’t apparent already.