“We have a trade to announce”

Kevin Westgarth, lovable enforcer, is off to Carolina in exchange for Chris Stewart’s brother, Anthony Stewart. The L.A. Kings also receive a 2013 4th round and 2014 6th round pick.

Anthony Stewart is a 28-year-old (DOB 1/5/85) right wing who weighs in at a thick 6’2″, 230 pounds. The Florida Panthers chose him in the first round (25th overall) in 2003. He has only been in the NHL for three seasons and with three different teams, Florida, Atlanta and Carolina. In 77 games with the Hurricanes last season, he put up 9 goals and 11 assists for 20 points.  He was a -2. He put up those numbers while only taking 64 shots, which I found interesting. That gives him a scoring percentage of .141. His scoring percentage has steadily increased the past three seasons from .036, .099 to the .141 of last season.

Of further interest is his playing time on the international stage:

He represented Canada in two World Junior Championships, 2004 and 2005. In 2004, Canada won silver and Anthony Stewart was tied for the tournament points lead. In 2005, Canada won gold.

He played in the 2003 IIHF World Under 18 Championship, in which he was the leading goal scorer for Team Canada.

He played twice in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge.

As for Westgarth, under Darryl Sutter, who unlike Terry Murray doesn’t appear to have an affinity for traditional enforcers, Kevin was the odd player out. He doesn’t bring enough offensive or defensive upside. He is not a particularly good skater. His fighting skills are above average. That is not to say I dislike Westgarth. I actually liked him very much but the “fit” simply wasn’t there, going forward. He was also one year older than Stewart. Kevin Westgarth’s offseason home is in Raleigh, North Carolina so that should make the transition easy on Westy as he goes easty.

Overall, on paper, this is a win for the L.A. Kings, especially with the picks. Whether Kevin’s absence from the locker room has an impact on team chemistry remains to be seen, although I don’t believe it will.

In short, a mid-80′s born, right wing, 3 year NHL pro enforcer, with good size and limited offensive output was traded for a mid-80′s born, right wing, 3 year NHL pro, with good size and better offensive upside. Darryl Sutter may say the similarities are similar but Stewart is a better skater, checker and, if he plants his body in front of the net, could fit in nicely on the 4th line. Like Westgarth, Stewart will drop the gloves. The only question with Stewart is his work ethic.

He had a hat trick against the Ducks so that is fun…

In some respects, I look at Anthony Stewart like a low risk, mid-reward move. Dean Lombardi loves players who perform on the big stage. Stewart is pretty far removed from those days by this point and it certainly has not translated to great NHL success but Lombardi may look at him as an underachieving player with potential, still in his prime and, with Sutter’s more aggressive forechecking style, Stewart could find a home in a depth role, depending on what the Kings do with a player like Brad Richardson.