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Wild acquire Stewart from Sabres for 2017 pick

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The Minnesota Wild acquired forward Chris Stewart from the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

"Going to this team, I think it's going to be a fresh start," Stewart told Sportsnet. "I'm excited. I think going back to the [Western Conference] and in that division (Central), I think it's going to be more of my kind of hockey. And I think that's going to drive me to elevate my play."

Stewart, 27, has 11 goals and 25 points in 60 games. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and was the subject of trade rumors almost the entire season.

"[The rumors] became too much to handle," Stewart said. "I think once I put it all behind me and just told myself that it's out of your control and literally just turned off the Twitter and all that social media stuff and just started focusing on my game, and I thought that was the best thing for me."

Selected by the Colorado Avalanche with the 18th pick of the 2006 NHL Draft, Stewart has 126 goals and 253 points in 443 games with the Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Sabres.

"I'm definitely familiar with that division during my time with Colorado and St. Louis, so it's going to be an easy transition," Stewart said. "I like the Western Conference because it's a physical style of hockey and that fits my play. I've been playing well the last 30 games and I feel like I'm peaking at the right time."

The Wild have taken off since the acquisition of goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes and hold the second wild card from the Western Conference into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 73 points, three in front of the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

"You can see how tight that Western Conference right now is and you know home ice is definitely important in the playoffs," he said. "Every game is going to count and I'm going to bring my best game every night."

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