I have been very critical of the Anthony Stewart signing this summer, as I feel that he does not add much to a team which is in big need of scoring depth. Yes, he netted 14 goals last year but half of those came in the first 25 games of the season, while he only scored 7 in his last 55. He wasn’t terribly impressive at driving possession last year in Atlanta either so what role will he have in Carolina and how many goals can we expect from him? Read more to find out.
There were some pundits who labeled Stewart’s 2010-11 season as a “breakout” year as he is a former first round draft pick but hasn’t quite been able to establish himself as force in the league yet. The fact is, there are not that many players who have their first full NHL season at 24 that turn out to be anything special. The fact that he had to spend all of next season in the AHL should also tell you a little bit about him. Stewart received top-six minutes and powerplay time in Atlanta and got to play with some pretty damn good linemats like Bryan Little and Evander Kane, so you could make the argument that he can succeed with talent around him but will he have that luxury in Carolina? Kane and Little aren’t exactly stars but unless Stewart plays on Staal’s line (which is possible) then I think he wont have a repeat of last season. If he ends up being a fourth liner in Carolina, then we can probably expect him to have number similar to 2008-09 when he played on a bad Florida team.
What kind of role Stewart will have is a good question because he played against decent competition in Atlanta (Corsi Rel. QoC: .402), started most of his shifts in the offensive zone (54.2% OZone Starts) and came out on the negative side of the territorial spectrum, but not by a lot (-2.02 Corsi ON). He might be able to fare well on the first line if he can take on tougher zone starts without getting killed, but can he score enough to stay on there? Everything suggests that last season was a fluke for Stewart so the answer might be no. He’s played on the fourth line with Timmy Brent and Patrick Dwyer during the pre-season, so it’s possible he could play there as well but I haven’t been too impressed with his defensive instincts, which makes me skeptical. If there’s one thing I like about Stewart, it’s that we have options for what we can do with him and he’s appeared to have hold his own during the pre-season at the very least.
Criteria were players who had played substantial time in the AHL, made their NHL debut in their mid-20’s, played in at least 185 games and scored 18 goals. Not too many good comparables here.
|82 Game Average||82||12||17||29|
Stewart’s comparable players have pretty reasonable projections for him and none of them eclipsed his 39 points from last year in the seasons highlighted above. I can agree with the numbers above, though. It’s not impossible for him to have another hot streak like he did last season, especially if he plays with Staal. Him getting above 10 goals shouldn’t be much of a problem. One issue standing in the way of that is whether or not he gets powerplay time. Five of his goals came with the man advantage last year, which would put him below 10 if you take those away.
I’ll say this, I don’t know for sure what Stewart’s ice time will be like this season. He could play on almost any line at this rate after some of the roster moves that were made today, but I see him teetering between the first, third and possibly the fourth line for most of the year. It will have a big effect on his powerplay time, which will definitely effect his goal total. However, Stewart was involved with 67.4% of the goals he was on ice for last season (43), which is pretty decent for a forward. He seems like more of a guy who can finish plays off, though as most of his goals come on set-ups or tap-ins next to the net rather than him creating offense on his own. I like to see how he does when he plays more on the bottom-six because he seems like the kind of guy who can crash the net to score those dirty goals and every team needs that. Why not Stewart for us? Regardless, I’m going to say Stewart gets to 10 goals this year but nothing above 15. I don’t think he will play that much 5-on-4, and that’s going to effect his goal total a lot.