Report: Rangers ‘Gathering Intel’ On Blues Forward Chris Stewart

The New York Rangers need to make a decision on whether to re-sign captain Ryan Callahan to a new contract or trade him and avoid losing him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

If general manager Glen Sather decides to trade the right-winger, getting a similar kind of player in return — one that plays a physical game in all three zones, is responsible defensively and can fill a second or third-line winger role — would be ideal.

One of those forwards is St Louis Blues winger Chris Stewart, and according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Blueshirts could be interested in the 26-year-old forward.

Stewart is younger than Callahan and has another year remaining on his contract that carries a $4.15 million salary cap hit. He’s eligible for UFA status in the summer of 2015. From a financial perspective, a one-for-one deal involving Stewart and Callahan would work because their cap hits are almost identical.

Stewart has struggled a bit this season and isn’t receiving a lot of playing time from head coach Ken Hitchcock of late. He’s gotten more than 14 minutes of ice time in one of his last five games, and he received just 5:32 of playing time in a shootout win over the New York Islanders on Jan. 25. The former first-round pick has tallied 25 points (15 goals, 10 assists) in 52 games this season, and his scoring rate has dropped by 0.27 points per game from last year. However, a case could be made that Stewart would be more productive offensively in Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault’s uptempo system, which favors skilled players a lot more than Hitchcock’s.

Giving up Callahan would be difficult for the Rangers and their fans. He’s one of the team’s most popular players and a respected leader. But Callahan’s durability is a concern, and Stewart has missed only three games over the last three seasons despite playing a similar power forward style.

NHL teams looking to make trades before the Olympic break must do so by the 3:00 p.m. ET deadline on Feb. 7. There will be a trade freeze during the Sochi Games.

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