Head coach Glen Gulutzan has revealed that Chris Stewart, acquired yesterday off waivers from the Minnesota Wild, will make his Calgary Flames debut this evening at the American Airlines Center against the Dallas Stars.
Stewart was of course a member of the Wild for the past two seasons and the decision to place him on waivers came as a surprise to many considering the fact that he is one of the few players who fills his role on the roster in Minnesota. The veteran has been a gritty presence at forward on every roster he has been a part of during his National Hockey League career and has largely made his name off of being a particularly tough competitor to play against.
With that being said at 30-years of age and on a team that is hopeful it will compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season it's unclear how much of a role he will have on the Flames line up once he arrives in Calgary. But one thing is sure, he needs to make a first good impression, and it starts tonight.
Stewart has tallied nine goals and 13 points in 47 games. In 645 NHL games, he has scored 159 goals and 318 points.
Here are tonight's projected lines, defense pairings and starting goaltender:
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Chris Stewart
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Garnet Hathaway
Troy Brouwer - Matt Stajan - Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie - Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak - Michael Stone
The Flames may believe that there is a role for Stewart as a veteran enforcer that will protect players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan who have often been the target of aggression from rival teams, including an incident against the aforementioned Minnesota Wild that left Johnny Gaudreau with broken bones in his hand. Gaudreau was the victim of multiple slashes and at the time there wasn't really a player on the Flames who could properly answer the abuse he was suffering.
Tonight, Stewart will be close by to protect the young players in Calgary.
"Getting an opportunity to play with two of the … young, best hockey players in this league, it's going to be fun and I'm looking forward to the challenge," Stewart said to NHL.com after the morning skate.
"I know what I've got to bring to the table and it's a huge opportunity here. That's the only way to put it. You've got to keep your spot, you've got to come to work every day and you've got to take advantage of it."