It’s pretty fitting that Scott Stewart wound up in Edmonton after the collapse of the Portland Lumberjax, playing for the same coach and manager that helped him steer his playing style into a role that now has Stewart as one of the game’s best two-way players.
Derek Keenan helped Stewart find his pro niche during his second stint in Portland, the two together again after Keenan was able to get Stewart back post-dispersal draft in a deal with the Minnesota Swarm, better know as the Ryan Ward for Ryan Benesch swap. Arguably the best player in the trade is the guy barely mentioned in the move, but as Stewart told NLL Insider’s Lauren Ward at around this time last year, he’s pretty used to the lack of bells and whistles when his name is mentioned.
“To go from a goal-scorer to a guy who does more than scoring goals… you never get any credit for it, really,” Stewart told Insider of his role change from everyday O guy to a two-way work horse that saw him snag a career high 98 loosies last year.
The 30-year old Stewart, who put up monster digits while playing Jr. B ball for the Brantford Posse, twice topping 90 points, also averaged over 20 goals per season in his first four in the NLL, one of which was spent with none other than Keenan in Anaheim.
The former Burlington Chief hasn’t hit 20 again in the bigs, but the athletic, fast, strong, and still very much skilled Stewart is more relevant now in this league than he ever was in his first several years. There have been many others to pass through the NLL ranks who woulda opted to have been released or traded if asked to reinvent themselves or tinker with their game, but Stewart’s ability to adapt and renew has seen him playing in the last two Mann Cup finals, an NLL title game, a finalist for Canada’s 2010 team and a respect around the league that was very much earned in every sense of the word.
“I doubt very much that there is a better pure, natural athlete in the NLL than Scott Stewart,” said Keenan, who already adpots an Edmonton roster with some of the sport’s top shelf mobile defenders, which saw both Stewart and Brodie Merrill added to it over the off-season.
One term we haven’t mentioned yet in reference to Scott even though it might as well be his middle name when talking to many? Underrated, a word that gets used and abused more in sports today than the Maple Leafs penalty kill, and although there was a time not so long ago you could definitely hang the underrated tag off Stewart’s sweater, not any more.
He’s good, and absolutely everyone better know it.
Fact: Although most remember Stewart going third overall, behind Gavin Prout and Blaine Manning, to the New Jersey Storm in the ‘02 entry draft, it wasn’t the first time Stewart was drafted into the league. The Albany Attack drafted Stewart sixth overall in ‘99 during his second to last year of junior ball, at the time playing for Burlington. Stewart would later go to Drexel University after the ‘99 draft, voiding the Attack’s pick. There have many other players that have had two picks spent on them for a similar reason to Stewart, but Stewart is just one of two players that had two picks spent on them in the first round. The other? Rory Glaves, who was originally drafted by the Columbus Landsharks seventh overall in the ‘02 draft, later accepted a scholarship to play college ball, and then later again taken in the first round by the Vancouver Ravens second overall in ‘04. Stewart and Glaves will be playing alongside one another in Edmonton this upcoming NLL season.
# (last year)
43 (NR) Scott Stewart, Edmonton Rush
44 (NR) Kaleb Toth, Calgary Roughnecks
45 (NR) Matt Disher, Edmonton Rush
46 (23) Ryan Ward, Edmonton Rush
47 (NR) Kyle Ross, Boston Blazers
48 (NR) Matt King, Calgary Roughnecks
49 (NR) Mac Allen, Rochester Knighthawks
50 (NR) Nick Inch, Minnesota Swarm
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