If Colorado's star power-forward Chris Stewart is on your fantasy team, than you know all too well that he missed 21 games and had been out of action after fracturing his hand in a fight with Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak on Dec. 27.
But it's time for Stewart owners to celebrate because he returned to Colorado's lineup on Friday night, bringing with him his much-needed energy and tenacity that has been lacking for the Avalanche in recent weeks.
"With Stewy being out as long as he has, he's very excited to get back in and that adds good energy to your lineup," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post.
Although Stewart did not have an immediate impact on the box score, his presence on the bench was apparent in Friday night's contest in the Twin Cities as Colorado dismissed the Wild 4-1. Colorado is thrilled to have the 6-foot-2, 228-pound right wing back in action since the squad went 9-7-5 in his absence after starting the season out with a 13-9-1 record with him on the active roster.
Prior to the injury Stewart was off to a fantastic start, boasting 11 goals and 14 assists in a 23-game span. He was even named the NHL's Third Star of the Month for October after finishing second among all League skaters with 16 points (9g/7a) during the month.
Stewart's numbers reached a career high last season as he led the young Avalanche squad in goals with 28, and his 64 total points were second on the team. Fantasy owners can expect Stewart to return to his early-season scoring pace as he helps the burgundy and blue to maintain its place in the Western Conference standings.
While fantasy owners certainly appreciate the scrappy game Stewart plays, especially in the PIM category, don't expect Stewart to engage in fisticuffs again anytime soon.
"I'm definitely going to be a little smarter about what I do out on the ice,” Stewart said to the Denver Post. “But I'm not going to try to be a different player or anything."
Expect Stewart to play on a line with Paul Stastny and David Jones. The Avalanche placed rookie Greg Mauldin on waivers before returning him to Lake Erie of the AHL in order to accommodate Stewart's return.
Despite missing half of the current season, Stewart still cracked NHL.com's top-50 ranked fantasy players at the Midway point at No. 46. With 17:04 average time on ice, 8 power-play points, and 36 PIMs in just 24 games, things are looking up for fantasy teams that own Stewart.
TIP: Consider picking up winger David Jones to compliment Stewart on your roster. Jones is only 15 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. Jones is having a breakout year with 14 goals and 12 assists in 42 games so far and is ranked fifth most productive player on the Avalanche squad so far this season with 26 points.