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Late-night blockbuster: St. Louis trades Erik Johnson to Colorado for Chris Stewart

Feb 19, 2011, 3:11 AM EDT

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Whether the Blues and Avalanche were saving the best for last after a remarkably busy day for trades or starting Saturday off with a bang, the teams came together for a blockbuster trade. St. Louis trades former No. 1 overall draft Erik Johnson, defensive forward Jay McClement and a conditional first-round pick to Colorado in exchange for power forward Chris Stewart, rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and a conditional second-round pick.

To say that this deal came out of nowhere would be an understatement. There have been rumblings of late in St. Louis that they’ve had concern with how Johnson has played this year, but giving away a guy they took first overall in the 2006 draft is a shocking turn of events. This season Johnson has been quiet with five goals and 13 assists along with a -10 rating for St. Louis.

Sending him to Colorado means giving the Avalanche a defenseman they’re hoping will enjoy the change of scenery and go back to developing into the top level talent he looked like before injuring his knee back in 2008 in an offseason golfing accident. With how poor the Avs defensive play has been the past year or two, getting a talent like Johnson on board is the sort of player they’ve been dying to have since the likes of Rob Blake left town.

Adding a top-notch defensive forward like Jay McClement is an underrated addition to the deal. Colorado has one of the worst penalty-kill units in the league killing off just 78.0 percent of their penalties, good for 27th out of 30 in the league. Getting McClement into their lineup will help that out as the fans in St. Louis last year started a grass roots campaign to get him nominated for the Selke Trophy.

For St. Louis, they’re able to add a power forward capable of 25-30 goals a season and ability to make plays in Chris Stewart. Stewart broke out last year scoring 28 goals and showing great knack for the net and playing tough hockey. Think of it like the Blues adding another guy in the mold of David Backes. Considering how well Backes is appreciated in St. Louis, Stewart will be a huge hit. He’s missed some time this season with a broken hand suffered after a fight.

Shattenkirk is still very young on defense and while he’s shown a great offensive game, his defense leaves a bit to be desired. That’s all right as every team needs a power play quarterback and Shattenkirk can be that in the future for St. Louis. With captain Eric Brewer now out of town after being traded to the Lightning earlier Friday and Johnson on his way to Colorado, the Blues defense looks radically different. Shattenkirk will continue to learn and grow on the job with a virtually new Blues defensive corps. With seven goals and 19 assists so far this season, Shattenkirk’s offensive abilities are apparent.

Fans on both sides of this deal are going to feel like their teams are giving up on them. Stewart was beloved in Colorado while Johnson was the Blues No. 1 pick just five years ago now. Giving up that kind of talent hurts to see, but for both teams it’s a change in how they view themselves heading towards the future. Colorado gets a cornerstone defenseman to build around while the Blues add goal-scoring power forward to help fill out their ranks and make the team deeper up front.

The clichés about giving up something to get something good in return fully apply here, but in the end this looks like a deal where both teams can come out looking good. At the moment, however, we can’t help but think Colorado got better from this simply by adding a guy capable of being a top pair defenseman. With how bad the Avalanche defense has been all year, getting a guy of Johnson’s caliber was a move they had to make no matter how much it hurt to do so.

  1. polegojim - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    I’m believe Sacco is wacko… and incompetent. This Avs team is getting worse, not better.

    Stewart is huge to this team. I don’t see making this deal at all, esp for an unproven high draft pick???
    I guess will see if McClement gives them what they need, but Stewart is a proven performer.

    Way to go Avs, just keep prolonging this rebuilding period. Why not make a career of it Joe? ‘The most rebuilding years in head coaching history’ for what used to be a perenial Stanley Cup contender.

    Colorado should be in mourning/protesting for what they’re being fed at the Pepsi Center right now.

    Lets Go Red Wings!

  2. crosbyhasgonorrhea - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    When all is said and done, Shattenkirk may be the best player involved in this deal

    • polegojim - Feb 19, 2011 at 8:47 PM

      No – Stewart is a true gamer. He’s for real, and a tough guy. Total package with complete on ice effort every night he’s out there.

  3. cintiphil - Feb 19, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Looks like St. Louis got the best of this deal, but Johnson may blossom in a year or two.

    • polegojim - Feb 19, 2011 at 8:49 PM

      That’s exactly my point. The Avs continue to push their performance and return to playoff contention OUT and OUT and OUT.

      Stewart is good right now.

  4. hulkhogan69 - Feb 19, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    http://defendingthecore.blogspot.com/2011/02/rangers-devils-wrap-up.html

  5. govtminion - Feb 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    It’s interesting. A week ago, the Avs were talking playoff push, Forsberg is going to spark us, etc… then he abruptly retires, the Flames beat them up on their own ice 9-1 in what was supposed to be Foppa’s first home game back in Denver, and… well, between their on-ice performance and trading away their top players, it really feels like the whole organization just threw in the towel completely.

    VERY disappointing to see. I wonder how many other moves the Avs plan to make before the deadline- Hejduk sticks out like a sore thumb, for example.

  6. andyreidisfat - Feb 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Well now that the flyers are on the verge of winning a cup again perhaps the Avs can draft “the next big thing” in hockey and we can trade an entire Cup team to the Avs… with the talent we traded them and the players they got via draft picks we sent and guys we sent they traded to get Roy the Avs should have won 5 cups.

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