Skip to main content

Wild, Sabres finally agree on Stewart trade

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Before speaking to media members Monday evening, Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher needed to charge his phone. The battery was nearly dead after another busy NHL Trade Deadline, something that has become a staple during the Fletcher regime.

After acquiring defenseman Jordan Leopold from the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day, little else was expected from the Wild as 2 p.m. local time approached.

But shortly before the deadline (three minutes to be exact), Fletcher and Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray were able to agree to a trade that sent forward Chris Stewart to Minnesota for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Fletcher and Murray, who are close friends, made their third straight deadline-day deal, following trades that sent Jason Pominville (2013) and Matt Moulson (2014) to the Wild from the rebuilding Sabres.

And for the third straight year, the Wild traded a future second-round pick to the Sabres, who received two second-round picks from Minnesota in 2014 and have another in 2016.

Fletcher said he and Murray had several conversations over the past year about Stewart and the Wild's potential interest in the power forward. Each time, the price Murray wanted wasn't one the Wild were willing to pay.

"I'd let him know that he was a player we would potentially have interest in," Fletcher said. "The price never seemed to fit in terms of what we spoke about."

But as Monday wore on and the deadline approached, Fletcher said the price on Stewart became more palatable. At 1:57 p.m. local time, an agreement was reached and an email was submitted to the NHL.

"Tim had a lot of scenarios and I guess they didn't pan out for him," Fletcher said. "I just let him know that if things didn't work out, he probably had my number on his cell phone and he could give me a call. I wish he would have given me more than a few minutes, but we were able to work it out."

One of the most talked about names as the deadline neared, Stewart knew he was in play. He was delighted when he heard where we was headed.

"As soon as I heard it was them I was really excited," Stewart said. "They've got a really good hockey team and they've been playing really great hockey lately.

"Minnesota has always been one of my favorite places to play. The fans there have been great, and coming to that arena, they're always fired up and ready to support that team. Being on the other end of it now, I'm sure it’ll feel a little bit different, but exciting."

Minnesota has been the NHL's hottest team since the All-Star break (13-2-1), but with injuries to forwards Matt Cooke, Ryan Carter and Jason Zucker, Fletcher said trading for Stewart was an opportunity to add insurance.

"Our depth has certainly been tested in various areas up front and on defense," Fletcher said. "This is the last opportunity to improve your depth for this season. I'd rather have a lot of options than not enough."

Minnesota has several games against the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, and the Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks, teams that are bigger and have posed matchup problems for the Wild in the past. They're also potential opponents in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, should the Wild qualify.

"Probably the one fair criticism you can level at us is our lack of size," Fletcher said. "Chris is a big, strong guy (6-foot-2, 231 pounds), certainly a guy who brings a lot of toughness to our team. But he's a player who has contributed offensively, can play on the power play, and is willing to go to the net. With the type of players we have on our team, he complements them really well."

Stewart said Fletcher told him not to "reinvent the wheel." He laid out a simple game-plan for Stewart to follow and a way he hopes to see him play over the rest of this season.

"It's going to be a great challenge. I look forward to it," Stewart said. "It's a fresh start and it couldn't have come at a better time. Adding my size and my physicality to that lineup, I think that's something they're looking for."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.