Chris Stewart

Flyers sign Chris Stewart to contract after lengthy NHL pro tryout

Flyers sign Chris Stewart to contract after lengthy NHL pro tryout

Updated: 12:40 p.m.

The work and the wait have paid off for Chris Stewart.

The Flyers signed the veteran winger on Tuesday to a one-year, one-way contract worth $750,000. Stewart, who turns 32 years old this month, had been with the Flyers on an NHL pro tryout since the beginning of training camp.

"We're happy to have Chris under contract," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release by the team. "Chris came into training camp with a great attitude and a strong work ethic. He brings size and a veteran presence to our lineup."

Stewart projects to be the club’s extra forward. However, he was in the lineup Tuesday night against the Flames.

The Flyers had cap space and roster space for Stewart. Through the first three games, the team did not carry a 13th forward and had only 21 players on the roster. With the waiving of defenseman Andy Welinski, who is headed to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, the cap space was created to finally add Stewart, a good insurance policy for the Flyers.

When Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) returns, there will be an odd man out in the Flyers’ lineup and it projects to be either Connor Bunnaman or Carsen Twarynski, both 21-year-old rookies. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to have either of those two watch from the press box instead of further developing with the Phantoms.

Meanwhile, Stewart will welcome the opportunity after being out of the NHL last season and playing for the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers. He’ll be a positive personality in the dressing room, a quality guy for practice and a capable fourth-line power forward if the Flyers need to call his number.

At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, Stewart brings size and physicality, which the Flyers value. Those traits can play well in head coach Alain Vigneault's system.

Stewart has ties to Fletcher and assistant coach Mike Yeo, from their days in Minnesota. Stewart played parts of three seasons for the Wild from 2014 to 2018, putting up 25 goals, 20 assists and a plus-6 rating in 146 games.

Overall, he has played 652 career NHL games between six teams, with his best season coming in 2009-10, when he scored 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) over 77 games for the Avalanche.

“Chris, to me, this is a guy who scored quite a few goals in the NHL,” Fletcher said Sept. 26. “He’s got a lot more skill I think than people give him credit for. He’s a really good skater, especially in a straight line. He’s lean this year. This is the best shape he’s been in in years, at least that I’ve seen, and he obviously brings the physical element. He brings the elements of being a pretty quality power forward.”

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Flyers place Andy Welinski on NHL waivers, will create more cap space

Flyers place Andy Welinski on NHL waivers, will create more cap space

Andy Welinski, who had been out with a lower-body injury, was deemed healthy Monday and placed on waivers.

If the 26-year-old defenseman expectedly clears, he will report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

The move is notable for a few reasons.

The Flyers' cap space will increase from $283,811 to $1,033,811, according to CapFriendly.com.

Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) remains on injured reserve and counts against the cap like Welinski did. When the 20-year-old center is healthy, the Flyers will have room for him because the roster is at 21 players. Patrick appears to be getting closer to a return as he is with the Flyers on their current three-game road trip.

The Flyers might still make a move when Patrick inserts the lineup. An odd man out could be Connor Bunnaman or Carsen Twarynski, both 21-year-old rookies. It would make sense if the Flyers want them playing games at Lehigh Valley rather than sitting in the press box as an extra forward.

If the Flyers decide to send one of those players down, it would also create more cap flexibility. Chris Stewart, a veteran winger who turns 32 years old this month, remains with the team on a pro tryout (update, Tuesday, 11:05 a.m. — Flyers and Stewart agreed to contract).

As for Welinski, he will help a young Phantoms team if he clears waivers. Welinski has played 146 career AHL games and appeared in a career-high 26 games for the Ducks last season.

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Carsen Twarynski's climb, Philippe Myers' battle, more in Flyers stock watch

Carsen Twarynski's climb, Philippe Myers' battle, more in Flyers stock watch

The Flyers' roster is rounding into shape.

For now.

The team made seven cuts Tuesday, trimming its roster to 27 players (see story). The Flyers must be down to a maximum of 23 by 5 p.m. on Oct. 1.

When the Flyers submit their roster, don't fall in love with it. Right now, "It's just about getting ready for Prague," Chuck Fletcher said.

"We could even carry 20 or 21, we'll just have to see how the cap situation and how the math works out," the Flyers' general manager said on a conference call Tuesday. "I anticipate an awful lot of roster changes the first six weeks of the year. Our goal right now is to get a roster to play Chicago in Prague. When we get back, I'm sure there will be things we need to do as we move forward.

"There's not going to be any final roster, final cuts. There's going to be an ebb and flow of players between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley for the early part of the season, depending on who we're playing, the health of our team, whether we need right shots or left shots, or wingers or centeremen."

The Flyers play two more preseason games — Thursday at the Rangers and Sept. 30 in Switzerland — before opening the regular season Oct. 4 against the Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic.

Who's trending up for the trip? Who's trending down? Let's take a look at the stock:

Stock up

Carsen Twarynski

Twarynski is doing just about everything possible to win a job. Playing fourth-line minutes over the past two games, the 21-year-old delivered a pair of goals, nine shots and six hits.

The 2016 third-round pick has a year of pro experience under his belt, exemplifies bottom-six effort and is giving the Flyers exactly what they wanted — a difficult decision.

Joel Farabee

The one-and-done Boston University product survived Tuesday's cuts, which tells you how much the Flyers like the advanced 19-year-old. They clearly don't think he's far off and want to see him in another game.

Farabee, a point-producing winger, hasn't found the back of the net through three outings. However, he impacts the game when he's not scoring and can scale the lineup.

I'm not as concerned about Joel in the short term as I am in the long term. He's going to be a really good player in this league for a long time. What that means for a week from Friday, we'll see. 

He's a real smart player. For a 19-year-old player, he's ahead of the curve with respect to awareness of the game away from the puck, his defensive understanding of the game. He's obviously a highly competitive kid, very intelligent kid. But it's a tough league for a 19-year-old player. What we do with Joel will be what's right for the team, but also what's right for him in the long run.

- Fletcher

Connor Bunnaman

An under-the-radar performer through training camp and the preseason, Bunnaman is in the picture. Originally, the 21-year-old seemed destined to open 2019-20 in Lehigh Valley, but with the winger vacancy and the uncertainty surrounding the health of Nolan Patrick and Tyler Pitlick, he has a chance to help the Flyers.

The 2016 fourth-round pick scored 19 goals last season in his first year as a pro. He has some deceptive speed and power, which he showed here against Travis Sanheim.


Stock down

Chris Stewart

Competing on a pro tryout, Stewart has been as advertised with his physicality and toughness. He has fought twice, stood up for teammates and accrued 14 penalty minutes.

Fletcher knows the 31-year-old winger from their time together in Minnesota, but the Flyers have better, younger, more skilled options for their bottom six. They have a chance to get deeper and won't have a problem with toughness if they're bigger and tougher to play against.

Philippe Myers

Let's be clear: Myers has not played poorly but more so unevenly. He was better Monday night compared to his previous game when Vigneault said, "I think he might be trying to do a little bit too much — he needs to be strong in his 1-on-1 battles and keeping his puck decisions at a high percentage."

It's not that Myers' stock is plummeting, but the organization was bullish on his upside entering camp and the 22-year-old defenseman may be in a closer competition for playing time (i.e. Robert Hagg) than I anticipated.

Nolan Patrick

There's just a lot of unknown with Patrick (upper-body injury) as this was not the start anyone wanted for the 21-year-old center this season. While he has been skating and involved in team meetings, he hasn't experienced Vigneault's high-paced, system-oriented practices and his status for the season opener is in peril.

It's never good to miss the preseason. It's even more difficult when a new coaching staff is in place.

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