The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues made a shocking, 2 AM blockbuster which exchanged former first overall pick Erik Johnson and penalty killing stalwart Jay McClement along with a first round pick in 2011 or 2012 for former first-rounders Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk as well as a second round pick in again 2011 or 2012.
As Adrian Dater of The Denver Post notes, both new Avalanche players will be in the lineup for tonight’s game when the Avs travel to San Jose. Lou Korac via Twitter believes the new Blues will also make it to Missouri prior to game time.
Hard to know what to make of this deal, so no reason not to profile the players involved.
Clearly the Avs felt they were giving more value away and moved up in either the 2011 or 2012 draft. With a very young core of first round picks, the Blues could afford to slide down, especially after attaining two first round picks last year in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Colorado received perhaps the centerpiece to the entire transaction in Erik Johnson. A former first overall pick, Johnson marked a change in regime as the Blues officially began their rebuild with his selection. Although seen as an all-around defender in the Chris Pronger mold, Johnson still needs to further develop into that player and seemed to regress offensively from 10 goals and 39 points last year to just five goals and 19 points through 55 games.
A change in systems, from a more defense-reliant St. Louis team to the run-and-gun Avs may help change his offensive fortunes. His 6’5″ frame should also slow down the opposition from crashing the Avalanche net. Expect Johnson’s value to go up without the pressure of being a first round pick and with a change of scenery.
It seems like with all the injuries to the current blue line, the Avs made a drastic change by acquiring solid two-way players in an attempt to reinvent their image. While they gave up fine players in Stewart and Shattenkirk, they still hold on to their top two centers in Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene.
Just as important in this transaction is McClement, who although seen as a throw-in could be the best penalty killing forward in hockey. Combined with Ryan O’Reilly and Daniel Winnik, the Avs may once again learn how to play defense.
In other words, expect an up-tick from Colorado in this one.
On the other hand, the Blues round out their offense quite nicely with their pickups as Stewart projects as a top-line right wing while Shattenkirk adds yet another mobile defenseman to the corps. Their current six of Shattenkirk, Roman Polak, Barrett Jackman, Carlo Colaiacovo, Nikita Nikitin and Alex Pietrangelo combines shutdown ability with puck-moving mobility which as stated before suits their system quite nicely.
Furthermore, the emergence of Pietrangelo certainly helped the Blues comfortably move their bright young asset. Expect Shattenkirk to take the role of Johnson with Pietrangelo on the powerplay.
Most importantly, however, would be the addition of Stewart to the team’s promising forward core.
Stewart started the season with a bang with nine goals and 16 points through 11 October games followed by two goals and nine points through 12 November games. He then missed some of November, all of December and parts of January, failing to pick up where he left off. The Avs may have rushed him back into the lineup or Stewart may have slowed down from a pace he could not keep.
Nevertheless, make no mistake, Stewart is a potential 30 goal, 70 point power forward who will only excel as he develops and fits the postseason mold perfectly. At the time of the trade he is the most valuable asset, although Johnson may hold more potential.
Similar to most trades made, this deal becomes another “good hockey trade”– one which should help both clubs further their ever-changing identity.
In summary… (line changes)
Blues: Brad Boyes probably moves back to the second or third line with Stewart coming up. Shattenkirk replaces Johnson on the blue line.
Avs: Johnson spells Shattenkirk on the back end. Brandon Yip probably moves back to a scoring line while McClement replaces him on the third line. The Avs could also hold auditions regarding who to slot onto their second line.
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