At first glance, the line of speedy Patrik Berglund(notes) and agile Alex Steen(notes) with the 6-2, 228 pounds of Chris Stewart(notes) reminds one of the old Nintendo Ice Hockey game: The skinny guy, the medium guy and the lumbering big guy with the booming shot.
Only Stewart's skating isn't necessarily indicative of his frame ... even if skating with his linemates is a bit of a track meet.
"Yeah, exactly," he said with a laugh. "Give me some room in the neutral zone, and I can build up some speed."
Stewart has built up momentum since joining the Blues. It took him a while to regain his offensive form after breaking his hand in a fight for the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 27, scoring two goals in 13 games before the epic Feb. 18 trade that sent Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk(notes) from Colorado to St. Louis for Erik Johnson(notes), Jay McClement(notes) and a conditional pick.
In nine games with St. Louis, he has nine points, including seven goals, leading NHL.com to call him "the gold standard of deadline acquisitions."
"He's a big boy," said fellow power forward David Backes(notes), "and he knows where he's gotta go to score goals. He's got a little bit of finesse to make plays too. He'll be huge for the next, hopefully, next 10 years in St. Louis."
That the Blues traded Erik Johnson wasn't, in hindsight, a huge shock. The two-year deal they handed him was indicative that the clock was ticking on his tenure. There had been some rumblings about his availability leading up to the deal.
Stewart, in contrast, was a stunner. A 23-year-old right wing that scored nine goals and 16 points in October, he appeared to be part of the core group of young players the Avalanche would build around. But with the team floundering, and with a potential franchise defenseman available, they had to give to get. And Stewart was gone.
"It's been great. The team welcomed me with open arms, made the transition really easy. There are great guys in this locker room, and I'm glad to be a Blue," he said last week, after the Blues lost to the Washington Capitals in D.C.
Was it better to be traded prior to the deadline?
"I don't know if you're ever happy getting traded. But the earlier, the better."
The Blues provided him with a place to live, and a buddy drove his car to St. Louis within 48 hours. So the transition was smooth ... or as smooth as it can be after a blockbuster trade.
"It's tough, personally, with friends leaving that have been around for a long time," said Backes. "But you have to trust that management's doing things for the right reasons, and that's to get better as an organization and win a Stanley Cup."
With Stewart coming over from a conference rival, there were no mysteries for the coaching staff.
"We've been dealing with him for quite some time," said Coach Davis Payne. "We have a clear understanding of the pace he can play with, the physical presence he can be, the type of shot he's got, and some pretty good patience and poise with the puck."
Judging from the standings, patience might again be a virtue (again) for the Blues. Injuries have hindered their momentum all season, from David Perron's(notes) concussion to Jaroslav Halak's(notes) hand injury. They enter tonight's rivalry game with the Columbus Blue Jackets (remember this?) 11 points behind the eight seed in the West with 17 games remaining -- not out of it, but not nearly close enough to be "in it" with the quality of contenders in the West.
If the Blues miss the cut, Stewart has provided them with a glimpse of what he can offer the team as a mobile, powerful offensive force. He's signed for next season. In summer 2012, he becomes a restricted free agent. (Berglund, T.J. Oshie(notes) and Matt D'Agostini(notes) are among this summer's RFAs).
He said no matter what happens in this playoff race, he's optimistic about helping to build a winner in St. Louis.
"There's definitely a great future in this room. There are a lot of pieces of the puzzle here," he said.
"Yeah, we're going to definitely be a force to be reckoned with."