SAN JOSE — One player had a little more at stake than the others Friday morning when the Sharks held their first camp scrimmage Friday morning.
Veteran forward Anthony Stewart is in San Jose as a pro tryout and the former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers knows that his fate is likely to be determined more in the scrimmages than the drills.
"We just did some drills and I thought I used my speed pretty well today, but I'm looking forward more to the scrimmage and hopefully a couple exhibition games," the older brother of St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart said Thursday. "You don't really want to grind your own future teammates, but I am trying to impress."
In Friday's scrimmage, players in Group B — including Stewart — defeated those in Group A, 5-1. Stewart did not figure in the scoring, but did have an attention-getting hit on defenseman Jason Demers.
"It's something I've got to do, use my body to my advantage and take some bodies down," Stewart said of the play, adding the thought he and linemates Bracken Kearns and Freddie Hamilton did a good job creating scoring chances and crashing the net.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Stewart divided the shortened 2012-13 season between Nottingham of the English Ice Hockey League and Manchester of the AHL, but has scored 27 goals and 71 points in 262 NHL games with the Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers and Carolina Hurricane. His best season was 2010-11 when he scored 14 goals and 39 points with Atlanta.
Stewart was part of what is considered the best NHL draft class, selected 25th overall in 2003. That's five spots behind Brent Burns and three ahead of Anaheim Duck forward Corey Perry.
He cited the current CBA, which dropped the salary cap to $64 million, as part of the reason he doesn't have a contract in hand for the coming season.
"Teams don't have a lot of money to spend this year. Teams are up against the cap," Stewart said. "There's a lot of players with better stats than myself that are on PTOs and don't even have contracts yet."
Even though the Sharks do not appear to have cap room at this time, Stewart called the situation in San Jose "a good opportunity here with guys in the past coming in on tryouts and making the team. I think it's a good fit and so far so good."
Both Brad Winchester and Jed Ortmeyer have come to camps in the past as tryouts and left with contracts.