(Photo: Mike Kruce)
Over the summer, the Flyers invited veteran forward Chris Stewart into the competition for limited roster spots in the NHL by signing him to a professional tryout. For the 31-year-old, who played last season in England, this was likely the final chance he had to revitalize his NHL career.
Stewart hung around throughout training camp, showing his physical edge as he auditioned for a bottom-six role. Even beyond the preseason, Stewart remained on a PTO waiting for the chance to sign. That chance has arrived.
The Flyers have signed Stewart to a one-year, one-way deal worth $750,000. To make room on the Flyers roster, defenseman Andy Welinski, who was waived on Monday and sent to the Phantoms after clearing on Tuesday. That move opened up approximately $1 million in cap space, enough for the Flyers to be able to complete the signing of Stewart.
Stewart had two assists in five preseason games for the Flyers.
Stewart was a former first-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche, selected 18th overall in 2006. In his first years in the league, Stewart emerged as a scoring threat. In his rookie season in 2008-09, he scored 11 goals and 19 points in 53 games. In his second season, he scored 28 goals and 64 points in 77 games.
Over the years, Stewart has been moved several times with stops in St. Louis, Buffalo, Anaheim, Calgary and two stops in Minnesota. The Flyers will officially become Stewart’s seventh NHL team. As his career progresses, Stewart’s offensive production has fallen off, but he brings an element of toughness and grit to the bottom-six of a lineup.
With the Flyers trading Wayne Simmonds in February and Radko Gudas in June, the Flyers lost a chunk of their physicality from the lineup. Stewart can certainly provide it, after all he did drop the gloves twice during the preseason.
Stewart is already with the team and can enter the lineup as soon as Tuesday night against the Flames, as the Flyers continue a three-game Western Canada trip.