Chris Stewart Should Spend Time With Charlie Coyle


Announced on KFAN this morning, Chris Stewart will slot on to the second line with Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek tonight.

If you didn’t hear the news, Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher made a deadline busting deal to acquire power forward Chris Stewart for a 2nd round pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft. You can read more on the deal in Dustin’s coverage.

There have been multiple reports of Stewart’s work ethic being sub-par. I’m not one to focus too much on that. If a player like Stewart wants to make an impact with a team that is probably headed to the playoffs, he will or he’ll go somewhere else. It’s that simple. He knows his clock is ticking.

According to multiple sources, Stewart will slot on to the Wild’s 2nd line with Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek. Jordan Schroeder will come out of the line-up, leaving the lines to look something like this.

Zach PariseMikael Granlund – Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek – Mikko Koivu – Chris Stewart

Nino NiederreiterCharlie CoyleSean Bergenheim

Justin FontaineErik HaulaKyle Brodziak

So, that means only the red-hot 4th line will remain intact. Parise, Granlund, and Pominville getting reunited is fine. I’m okay with Bergenheim on the 3rd line because he’s smart with the puck and, theoretically, Niederreiter can move back to right-wing. He’s had success on both sides, but he’s a right shot and plays pretty well on the right side. Taking Schroeder out for Stewart isn’t a terrible move because Stewart can play special teams minutes, but Schroeder’s speed really helped that third line click.

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If I were head coach, I’d put Stewart with Coyle and Niederreiter for two reasons. First, that second line is already pretty slow and Stewart isn’t the best at puck possession. Second, Stewart could teach Charlie Coyle a thing or two.

Second Line Nightmare:

Nightmare is probably a little hyperbolic, but that’s okay. Speed is a huge concern on the second line heading in to tonight’s contest. Vanek’s been painfully slow this season and spends a majority of his time between the face-off circle. Koivu is beginning to show his age, although he’s still got legs underneath him. Chris Stewart ranks up as your typical power forward. At 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, he’s better at a hard hitting game than a speed game. Matched up against a team like the St. Louis Blues, this isn’t an issue; however, Ottawa is a speedy team that likes to force odd-man rushes. Look for that to be an issue tonight. If it is, expect some line shuffling. The Wild has classically had bad luck with Ottawa, and this isn’t a game it can afford to lose.

Possession is another problem. Stewart has a Corsi-for percentage at a paltry 35.0% on the season. Even with the lowly Sabres, that puts his Corsi-relative at -2.9. Koivu sits at an awesome Corsi-for of 54.7% with a Corsi-relative of +4.0. Vanek is in the middle at 48.4% with a much worse -4.7 Corsi-relative. Putting that all together, you get a net negative in puck possession. Koivu and Vanek are basically a wash, so Stewart’s -2.9 becomes the outlier. It’ll be interesting to see what more offensive zone time yields for Stewart.

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  • Put him with Charlie:

    This is less about possession and more about playing style. Stewart and Coyle are both big guys that can check hard, win board battles, and create good screens. Look at the photo above. That’s the kind of thing we want from Coyle, who has much better hands than Stewart.

    Coyle’s development has been really hindered this season and I’m not sure why. Taking a guy who has veteran experience in the league with a 30-goal season under his belt will help Coyle out a lot. He needs someone to show him the ropes and there’s really not a prototypical power forward on the team. I also like the idea of Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Chris Stewart all together on a checking line.

    Thanks for reading! Talk to you after the game