It was a bad trade at the time and it looks even worse in retrospect. That being said, I’m not sure anybody could anticipate the effect it had on the respective clubs. It was a blockbuster deal, but not one that was expected to take the respective clubs to opposite ends of the Western Conference.
Just two years ago on this very day the St. Louis Blues sent former first overall Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a second round draft pick to the Colorado Avalanche for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a first round pick. Much to the chagrin of Paul Stastny's father, who went on quite the radio rant following the trade. With the draft picks acquired in this trade the Avalanche selected Duncan Siemens eleventh overall, and the Blues picked Ty Rattie in the second round.
Both teams were having horrible seasons. At the time of the trade the Avalanche were fourteenth in the Western Conference, and the Blues were twelfth. They were struggling for two very different reasons. The Blues severely overestimated the ability of their younger players and Jaroslav Halak had yet to adjust to his new team. The Colorado Avalanche however were victim to a slew of unfortunate injuries to nearly all their best players.
Despite taking the hockey world by surprise just one season before this trade by making the playoffs, Greg Sherman felt a need to shake things up. Doug Armstrong and the Blues were all too willing to benefit from his panic.
Just how bad was this deal for the Avs though? The short answer: very. Looking solely at the points each team has gotten out of the players involved in this trade it is a miracle Sherman still has his job in Colorado. The Blues have gotten 138 points out of the players involved in this deal, and counting. The Avalanche have but a meagre 58 points to show for this trade.
The immediate impact of this trade makes it hard to declare a clear cut winner, just a loser in the Avalanche. Before this trade the Avalanche were a .500 team. Just a little below to be exact. Their record following this deal to finish the season was 5-19-1. The Blues were six games above .500 before the trade and regressed slightly to just about .500, following this trade up with an 11-12-1 record.
Just next season the Blues were competing for the President’s Trophy (much of this I must admit has to do with the hiring of Ken Hitchcock). The Avalanche nowhere near a playoff spot. It’s looking like things will end that way this season too.
Defensemen take longer to develop and many felt Johnson still could develop into the elite defender he was projected to become. I can almost see why Sherman spent so much to acquire him. The move has failed miserably though. The “other guy” in the deal, Jay McClement, left in the off-season for greener pastures in Toronto. The draft pick they acquired is nowhere near NHL ready, whereas the Blues’ pick could be playing with the big club as soon as next season.
No matter how you look at this, this move has set what appeared to be a team on the upswing back several years. Let this be a cautionary tale to general manager’s ready to overreact based on injuries. On the bright side, their record following this deal could very well have been what gave them that extra push into the lottery draft picks. A pick that would become their captain just one year later. You may have heard of him, Gabriel Landeskog. Other than that though... Not so good.
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You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins