According to Kevin Kurz, 28-year-old right wing Anthony Stewart will attend Sharks training camp, which begins one week from today, on a professional tryout. Stewart was last seen in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2011-12 season. He was traded to the Kings in exchange for Kevin Westgarth the day the 2012 lockout ended in earnest but only appeared in game action for Los Angeles' AHL affiliate.
While his inability to crack the Los Angeles lineup last season can be chalked up at least in part to the Kings' forward depth, there's reason to believe Stewart isn't quite NHL material at this point with this tryout representing an opportunity for him to prove otherwise. A first round pick of the Florida Panthers in the now-legendary 2003 draft, Stewart never panned out in Miami and ended up playing his first full season with Atlanta in that team's final year of existence. He scored 14 goals and 39 points in 80 games that season but those totals belied some fairly unimpressive possession numbers in favorable minutes.
After the Thrashers franchise moved to Winnipeg, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff opted not to tender Stewart a qualifying offer and he eventually signed with Carolina. His scoring dropped to 9 goals and 20 points in 77 games with the Hurricanes in what was an abysmal season for him from a possession standpoint despite drawing heavily sheltered minutes. Reviewing that year, Corey Sznajder of the excellent Hurricanes site Shutdown Line didn't mince words:
He isn't good enough defensively to play on a checking line or in a shutdown role and he doesn't have the skill set to play on one of the top two lines either. All the Hurricanes could do was give him 6-10 minutes of soft ice-time per night and hope that he didn't hurt the team. That is exactly how the Hurricanes used him for most of the year and Stewart may have scored nine goals, but a closer look at his numbers show that he probably wouldn't be in the NHL on a good team.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Corey's assessment that Stewart wouldn't be able to crack the big leagues on a good team proved correct as the big forward spent this past season with the AHL Monarchs after being traded to the Kings. Unless he endears himself to the coaching staff or someone suffers an injury in camp, it's unlikely Stewart makes his way onto the Sharks' roster. Even excluding the injured Martin Havlat, the Sharks have at least 13 superior forwards in their system. They could certainly use another useful NHL winger on the cheap but Stewart isn't that.