Stewart with the Panthers (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images North America)

A Cat's Point of View: Anthony Stewart

Eugene Markham was kind enough to give us an insider look at Brian Boucher, and now Frank Rekas, Editor of FanSided’s Florida Panthers blog, is going to provide us with the skinny on Canes new forward, Anthony Stewart.  Frank is also FanSided’s NHL Director and is a must follow on Twitter. For the latest Cats news, be sure to check out his blog The Rat Trick.

An inside look at Anthony Stewart…

Drafted in the first round 25th overall in 2003 Stewie as we knew him in Florida was never allowed to reach his potential in my mind.  He was impressive in the World Juniors in 2003-2004 with 11 points in six games, and in 2004-2005 with 4 points in 6 games, he continued to show his promise in Kingston of the OHL accumulating 125 points over two seasons.

The Panthers had him pegged as a power forward. A player who had above average speed for his size and a knack for scoring goals.  Unfortunately for Stewie, he had to overcome some challenges and had some growing up to do early on in his career.  He seemed to be one of those players who appeared to be lazy to some, and aloof to others.  A quiet player who is talented will sometime give off that impression.

With each training camp he came to, the Panthers were hoping that he’d finally put it all together.  In my mind he was never really given a chance to prove his value by either Jacques Martin or Peter DeBoer, the coaches that he played for.

When you ask what concerned me about him, the thing that pops into my mind is that he was never given a chance to succeed.  A player with the skills that Anthony has belongs on at least your second line.  He can score, he can find the net, and he’s a big body.  He does not belong on the fourth line playing 5-8 minutes a night, which was virtually what the Panthers were doing with him.  No way can you create enough scoring chances with the limited ice time that you’d get playing on the bottom six.

The other thing is it appeared that when Anthony made a mistake, he found a seat on the end of the bench, or back in the press box, or the AHL.  In the 2008-2009 season he played 59 games for the Panthers and scored 9 points, playing mostly on the 4th line.  He had a brief stint playing on the top six, but it was short lived.  The coaching staff never had any confidence in him, and must have expected him to score on every shift and be completely mistake free.  Meanwhile the club struggled for goal scoring.

Personally I think he got a bad rap, and the way he was used by the Panthers actually stunted his progress. You can’t take a goal scorer and expect production from him in checking role.  Imagine if if Jeff Skinner played on the 4th line?  Crazy, and while I’m not comparing the two, what I am saying is that players need to be put in the position to succeed.  The Panthers didn’t do that, and Anthony lost confidence.

I give a stick tap to the Atlanta Thrashers for giving him a chance.  I think that you’ll be pleased with his effort and with his production.  He’s a nice kid, and he deserves a chance to prove himself.  Honestly he can probably score around 25 goals a season if he gets the minutes.  A late bloomer maybe, but for all the grief he was put through here and the way he was misjudged, I’m rooting for him to do well.

So are we, Frank, so are we! And how I adore you for giving me a reason to tag Jeff Skinner.

Let’s Go Canes!

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Tags: Anthony Stewart Brian Boucher Carolina Hurricanes Florida Panthers Jacques Martin Jeff Skinner Peter Deboer

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