As the regular season winds down and with teams like the Blues starting to turn their attention to the offseason, we reflect back on the happenings of the season. One of the biggest stories for the Blues this season was the trade of Erik Johnson from St. Louis.
The trade sent shockwaves through the city and the team as EJ was the top overall pick of the Blues and was seen as a cornerstone for years to come. While his work ethic and personal life were called into question, many fans and management alike chose to ignore the signs and continued to look at his potential.
With the Blues floundering arround the trade deadline and GM Doug Armstrong looking to make a name for himself in St. Louis, EJ and Jay McClement were traded in the middle of the night to another middling team, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Blues received in return two former first round picks in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. This was a surprising haul for the Blues and one many fans in Colorado, including former NHL’er Peter Statsny were unhappy with.
Now, 20 games and a month and half later, we in St. Louis can see why there was such an up roar. It is still too early to call this trade a win for the Blues but as we delve into the statistics we can safely say that, at least this season, is a big win for St. Louis.
Chris Stewart was recovering from an injury when he was dealt to the Blues and some believe it was his lack of scoring since that return that led the Aves to trading him. SInce he has arrived in St. Louis, though, he has seen a rebirth of his scoring touch.
In 20 games, Stewart has 13 goals (half his season total) and four assists. Stewart has had five multi goal games and seven of his 13 goals have come on the man advantage.
Kevin Shattenkirk has been one of the highest scoring rookie defensemen in the league this season and his ability to put up points hasn’t diminished since the trade. Shattenkirk has a goal and nine assists in his 20 games and has been a mainstay on the power play with fellow young defensemen Alex Pietrangelo.
It’s no coincidence that the Blues power play has improved dramtically since the trade. Since February 19th, the Blues power play has been firing at 23.8% clip, which has helped raise the season percentage to 17.4%. The Blues have had power play goals in 10 of those 20 games going 15 for 63.
Losing key penalty kill man Jay McClement wsa supposed to affect the penalty kill unit but the unit has not only held steady but seems to have improved since then. The Blues season percentage is at 81.3% but it has only allowed 10 goals in 56 chances since the trade, a 82.2%.
Unfortunately all of this good news didn’t translate to a better record as the Blues have only gone 8-11-1 since the trade. Most of that can be placed on the goaltending situation and injuries. With Jaroslav Halak being injured/not playing to his potential, Vladimir Sobotka being injured and not on the PK unit and scorers like David Perron and Alex Steen missing it has been hard for this team to really gel.
On the other side of the trade is the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado has only played 17 games since the trade but has been absolutely woeful in those games. With a 3-13-1 record they completely tanked and are not trying to avoid being in last place in the entire league.
Erik Johnson was looked at as a young veteran who could come in and help solidfy the power play unit and bring a toughness to the blue line in Colorado. But it looks like his adjustment to the move is coming very slowly. EJ has three goals and seven assists but is a minus 7 and has been seen making many mistakes in his own zone.
EJ may yet prove to be the number one overall pick Blues fans thought he would be and with less pressure in Colorado that could work in his favor but the mistakes he is making are rookie at best. The Aves power play percentage since the trade is 18.5% which is below their season average of 18.9%.
Jay McClement has not scored a goal and has only one assist but that was not what he was brought in for. McClement was supposed to bolster a weak penatly kill unit but we are seeing now that it seems like it was the system and not the man that made the Blues PK click.
Colorado’s PK has allowed 19 goals in 64 chances for a 70.4% penalty kill percentage. This drop has made their season percentage dip to 76.3%, not what they had in mind when they made this trade.
Looking back, even in this short amount a time, it still seems crazy that a team would give up two first round picks, both who were high on their scoring charts, for a young defensemen and a RFA who isn’t all that much.
If EJ develops into the star defensmen that he was projected to be, then this trade may end up begin even. But having Chris Stewart as your second power forward and allowing Kevin Shattenkirk to learn with another young defensemen it is hard to see this one getting anywhere close to even.
This trade will be discussed for many years to come and bluemenonice.com will be here to discuss it with them all along the way. Look for our team recap, awards and draft preview coming later in the summer and keep reading for previews and reviews of the rest of the games this season.