NHL Free Agency: Colorado Avalanche Targets After Draft

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NHL free agency target #5: RW Chris Stewart

Apr 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Chris Stewart (44) against the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

2014-15 cap hit: $4,150,000

Where he is right now: Chris Stewart was drafted 18th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2006, before moving on to the St. Louis Blues, the Buffalo Sabres, and eventually ending up with our biggest rivals — the Minnesota Wild. With his new teams, Stewart has never been able to play at the level he was on when he was still in Denver. However, he is still a very solid third line winger, that can also spend time on the second line. This season, he has scored 36 points in 81 regular season games.

Why the Colorado Avalanche should sign him: Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy has expressed his desire to have a bigger team more than once. Chris Stewart would add size, physicality, and skill. Back on his first stint in Colorado, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound forward was close to playing at a point-per-game pace. It is unlikely that he would get there again. However, Stewart would solidify a bottom six that made the Avalanche look like an AHL team at times.

Stewart brings toughness and skill to the bottom-six, but can only be signed if he is fine with a smaller contract than last season. He was already on my last list of Avalanche targets and that has not changed — especially after losing Jamie McGinn in the O’Reilly trade.

Next: NHL free agency target #4