The Colorado Avalanche pulled off a massive trade late Friday night, sending two of their most talented young players to the St. Louis Blues. Forward Chris Stewart, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and a second round pick have been sent to the Blues for defenseman Erik Johnson, forward Jay McClement and a first round selection.
Stewart had a spectacular start to this season, scoring over a point per game, before breaking his hand in a fight during a November game. Since his return from injury, Stewart has struggled to regain his physical presence in fron t of the net and has appeared to skate timid.
Shattenkirk was Colorado's top defensive prospect this season, and has played well enough since his callup early in the season to be considered for the Calder Trophy. He has 7 goals and 26 points in his first NHL action, and has shown a flair for crisp passing.
In return, Colorado receives Erik Johnson. Johnson was the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft and, at 22 years of age, stil holds an enormous amount of promise. He is a big, solid defenseman with a hard point shot and has superstar potential.
The Avalanche also receive forward Jay McClement, who is a third line center and has scored 16 points this season. At 27, he doesn't seem to be a part of Colorado's long term plans.
Essentially, Colorado upgraded their defensive core long term -- a glaring weakness on this year's current team -- and gave themselves another high draft piece to continue their rebuild. The salaries were essentially a wash, but the Avalanche have given themselves a blue chip defenseman for the first time since Rob Blake prowled the blue line. They gave up quite a bit of offensive talent in exchange for a young defensive stud, but St. Louis wouldn't have given up Johnson for any less.