Drafted by the Peterborough Petes in the ninth round of the 2002 OHL Priority Selection, and then in seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, left winger Greg Stewart has never garnered top prospect attention, however he’s continued to quietly do his job for the Petes and in 2005-06 he had a respectable 24 goals and 15 assists through 60 games.
“When I took over last year they raved about his conditioning and strength,” Petes coach Dick Todd told Hockey’s Future this week. “Usually the draft is so well documented that you don’t get quality players later in the draft coming to junior so he was a pleasant surprise to the hockey club when they got him.
“Last year he started to show his abilities,” said Todd of the 2004-05 season when Stewart had 16 goals and 18 assists. “He was drafted by Montreal because they knew his strength and power and this year he got 24 goals, so that’s a pretty good output for a guy that plays very little power play and generally plays the third line.”
Hockey’s Future spoke with Stewart shortly before the Petes were eliminated by the Vancouver Giants in the tie-breaker match of the Memorial Cup.
HF: What’s your role been on the Petes this season?
GS: This whole season I’ve been an energy guy. Create some chances here and there and just do a bit of everything that I can chip in for the team.
HF: What’s it like being on a team that is so talent-laden on offense?
GS: Oh it’s been a lot of fun because we all stick together and we can all play, step up huge at any given game and we’re going to look forward to that tonight and I like being part of that.
HF: Do you compliment those forwards or do you feel you have the skill as well to keep up with those guys offensively?
GS: We have the skill to keep up. We have three solid lines that can hurt you on any shift. I think that’s our key to our success.
HF: Coach Todd commented on your conditioning being excellent. I was wondering what in particular you do to maintain and improve that conditioning?
GS: I kind of just train on my own in the summer time. I’ve always had the endurance I just work on it with the running and some high intensity training and that works for my ability and I’m good at running so my endurance is pretty good.
HF: What’s the contract status with the Habs?
GS: (laughing) I don’t know want to know anything right now, I let my agent deal with that. He’s talking to them but I don’t want to know anything, I’m just going to play hockey.
HF: Okay, aside from when your mind is on the game though, being a late round OHL pick and then a late round NHL pick, is that a challenge for you, to prove yourself?
GS: Well I’ve always been the underdog so I work at that. That’s why my conditioning is so [good], that’s an important part of my game and I’ve just got to work the next best guy to get my position and I’ve been doing that on every team that I’ve grown up on.
HF: On the ice, what would you say are your greatest strengths?
GS: I’d say my speed and my forechecking and my physical play.
HF: How have you felt you’ve played in the Memorial Cup so far individually?
GS: I’ve played pretty well, but we haven’t had the results. I’ve had a couple missed opportunities…
HF: Like the breakaway (in a loss against the Moncton Wildcats on Monday)?
GS: Yeah, a couple ones like that. I made actually the highlights two nights in a row for getting robbed so it was kind of embarrassing (smiling). I just need to bury my chances more often.
HF: How have you developed as a player since being drafted by the Habs?
GS: Yes I have. I worked at it really hard last summer. Up in Montreal we had a bunch of power skating sessions and I did that and I came in a way better skater, power skater and I worked at that really hard and I’ve been continuing to improve all year.
HF: This season when you guys acquired [Steve] Downie (PHI) did you have any reservations about the guy before he was a teammate? A lot of people say he’s on your team you love him, he’s not, you hate him.
GS: Well actually I think I only got to play against him three times and I don’t really remember him from the years before because they’re in the Western Conference so we didn’t hear much about him. From those things we heard earlier, everyone jumped to conclusions but I’ve become his friend and he’s my roommate all the time now so it’s true, we love him on our team and we couldn’t have a better guy on our team than him.
Jason Menard contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.