Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Lock up 'Late Bloomer' Stewart

Saturday, 07.02.2011 / 3:03 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
X
Share with your Friends


Canes Lock up \'Late Bloomer\' Stewart

The Hurricanes added another top-nine forward to their lineup with the signing of right wing Anthony Stewart on Saturday.

Paul Branecky
Follow on Twitter

Stewart, an unrestricted free agent most recently with the Atlanta Thrashers, is coming off a personal breakout year that saw him score 39 points (14g, 25a) last season – a 32-point improvement over his previous best. A first-round pick (25th overall) of the Florida Panthers in 2003, Stewart may just now be reaching his potential after a slow start.

“He’s a late bloomer, no question,” said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. “What we like about Anthony is that last year was his first big step forward to be an NHL player. He is big, can skate and we feel there’s some upside there. We feel he’s a guy that can take another big step with us.”

Should the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Stewart be able to do so, Rutherford feels he’s added a 20-goal scorer to his lineup for the second consecutive day, having signed Alexei Ponikarovsky one day earlier. Those signings, which will cost the team a combined $2.3 million next season, should help offset the loss of Erik Cole to Montreal.

“When you put these to guys together, those are goals and minutes that we’re looking for to replace Erik,” said Rutherford, who added that he stepped up his pursuit of Stewart once he realized he would not be able to re-sign Cole.

Stewart’s signing, while at a relatively inexpensive $1.8 million over the next two seasons, does cut into the budget Rutherford had set aside to possibly acquire a proven top-six forward via trade as a direct replacement for Cole. While Stewart’s signing removes some of the team’s urgency to do so, the Canes’ general manager still did not rule out that possibility.

“We’re always looking to make our team better,” he said. “If the right player comes along, we’ve got the assets and the flexibility to make that trade.”

As for additional free agent signings, Rutherford suggested that the Hurricanes’ external shopping list may be complete for the time being, as the team turns its focus to re-signing some of its own players, both unrestricted and restricted.

“We’ll listen when people come to us, but we’re not searching as hard as we have been in the last couple of days,” said Rutherford. “There’s no urgency now.”

The signings of Stewart and Ponikarovsky would seem to limit the number of guaranteed starting spots for young players along the lines of Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe, but Rutherford said that the extra room in the budget will allow the team to carry extra players on its roster – something it’s been hesitant to do in recent seasons for financial reasons.

“If we have extra players on our roster, guys can play on merit,” said Rutherford. “We have the flexibility to allow more players to make our team.”

Stewart was Rutherford’s second signing of the day on Saturday, having also locked up forward Justin Soryal to a two-way contract. Soryal, who racked up 220 penalty minutes in the American Hockey League last season, will provide toughness for the Charlotte Checkers next season.

”This was a guy Jeff Daniels had at the top of his list,” said Rutherford. “At our end-of-year meetings, he was really pushing for him as a guy who could help his team.”

Rutherford said that, although the two players fill similar roles, Soryal’s signing did not rule out the possibility of a return for unrestricted free agent Troy Bodie.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73