USATSI_8365663_154158418_lowresAs we’ve been reporting, it’s been quite a day for the Buffalo Sabres. They’ve now traded Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a second round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Stewart was always expected to be traded at some point here, what with his UFA status and general upside in the conversation. He actually found out about the trade on TSN.

Had Buffalo general manager Tim Mitchell not been able to move Stewart, it would’ve gone down as a disappointment. The forward has been wildly inconsistent with the Sabres, but it’s hard to imagine having the ability to gain any ground with a team on such a serious decline. The 27-year-old will finally have the opportunity to make things happen with the Wild.

The issue now is where he fits in the Minnesota puzzle. He’s a stiff power forward, without a doubt, and can take games over if he has the will. But he’s also capable of becoming rather invisible and may need to hone his emotions somewhat.

In 61 games this season, Stewart has 25 points. He’s scored 11 goals, but he’s a dismal -30.

Again, however, it swings back to the upside for the Wild. He’s a big guy at 6’2, 231 pounds and he can work the corners. He also has some speed up his sleeve, plus a shot that many take for granted.

Minnesota may want to think about making Stewart a top six forward and they’ll likely test him with their top centres for the time being. Finding the right fit will be the focus of the next few games and the Wild certainly have options. Look for him to slip in with Mikael Granlund or Mikko Koivu.

There’s another intangible here, too, in the fact that Stewart did not like the downward spiral of the Sabres. That likely impacted his play in more ways than one, which leads to the probability that he’ll find more of his game in Minnesota. And that’s good news for Wild fans.

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