Saturday, February 19, 2011

Late-Night Blockbuster Deal

2011 Season2011Remaining
To Colorado
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Erik JohnsonDefense225551419$2.6 million1Same
Jay McClementForward285661016$1.5 million1Same
Conditional 1st Round Draft Pick
To St. Louis
PositionAgeGPGAPCap HitYearsCap Hit
Chris StewartForward2336131730$2.9 million1Same
Kevin ShattenkirkDefense224671926$1.3 million2Same
Conditional 2nd Round Draft Pick

I don't know how many late-night deals there have been in the NHL's history, but a late-night blockbuster has to got to be a rare occurrence, to say the least. The Avalanche and the Blues dropped a big bomb, likely looking to re-tool their squads for the future, as neither team appear to be ready to make the move into the playoffs this year.

In the deal, the Avalanche receive a former 1st overall pick in defenseman Erik Johnson, a defensive forward in Jay McClement and a conditional 1st round pick in either 2011 or 2012 (see conditions here), while the Blues receive the young power forward Chris Stewart, an even younger blue chip offensive defenseman in Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional 2nd round pick (see conditions here).

With the Blues now sitting 7 points and at least four teams out of the playoffs and the Avalanche are worse at 11 points back, a deal to retool must have looked appealing for either side, who obviously see some benefits to the new faces they have acquired in this deal.

Starting with the defensemen, it looks like they have picked up a blossoming elite defenseman in Johnson, who is likely to hit his stride here in the next season or two, whereas they traded away a solid defenseman in Shattenkirk, but his development curve has really only just begun, but still looks like he'll be a keeper down the line.  Johnson already has a few seasons under his belt and I would imagine the Avalanche want to compete in a very difficult Northwest Division right away, while the Blues are likely being a little more patient with their side, but still has a really good upside.  Age-wise, there is little difference, experience is the key in this swap here.

As for the forwards, Stewart is the far more offensive player between the two, while McClement's responsible defensive play, both 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill, is more attractive to a far more defensive division like the Northwest.  Stewart hasn't quite been the same since his broken hand, really struggling to find a groove in Colorado, especially in their free fall from a solid playoff position.  McClement is a depth player that has some flexibility to his game and should be able to fit in with what the Avalanche look to achieve, likely a tighter game down the road.

The draft picks are a bit of a wash, but you can see that the picks really counteract the offensive numbers that are going back and forth here.

Salary CapQuite obviously, this deal has a lot more weight in the 2012 salary cap numbers, rather than the 2011, since neither team has a lot of worry going through the rest of this season, while the numbers for some retooling years are more important.

Between both sides, there are going to be a lot of free agents, which makes these cornerstone kind of players that much more important.  Currently, I have the Avalanche with only 9 key players (and a buyout) signed on for $22.2 million, with some fringe players looking like they could jump in, while the Blues now have 11 players signed on for $34.6 million, which isn't quite as flexible as their trade counterpart, but still very reasonable.  One of the biggest differences between both sides is that the Avalanche do not have a goalie signed on for next season, while the Blues have Jaroslav Halak, which may put them ahead of the curve here.

ImplicationsThis is quite the deal, in terms of the draft pool, because three out of the four players that were shifted were taken this year. In terms of the sheet pool, all four players are active in that one, although, some players are probably more popular than others there.

The three teams affected by this deal in the draft: 4th place Stuart G. (Shattenkirk), 10th place Stacey C. (Johnson) and 20th place Dale C. (Stewart).

Stuart is trying his best to defend against a few teams below him and trying to catch up to the elite group of three teams above him, but I don't imagine Shattenkirk's already good numbers will improve that much with a move to St. Louis, maybe a better chance they fall off a bit moving to a different system and environment.

Stacey, outside of Friday night's action, now leads the third segment of the season with 55 points, a slight 1-point lead at the moment and Johnson will need his experience to get him through a rough patch with his new team, which does seem likely.  There was no real rumblings of him needing a change of scenery, but he will join some very offensive talents, which may help his numbers a bit.

For Dale, this is the 4th player of his dealt in the last 24 hours.  That's incredible.

Without a doubt, this is one exciting deal for both sides and a very pleasant surprise, as I got up this morning and checked out my Twitter feed.  Breaking down this deal, I'm partial to think that the Blues really came away quite well in this one, for the short-term and the long-term, as they picked up some players that can really revive whatever playoff hopes they have left now, while the youth of the players acquired has to be a real positive, since both Stewart and Shattenkirk have a ways to grow still.  Johnson is a franchise-type defenseman that the Avalanche can build around, but the building will have to be clinical and precise to really be a long-term benefit, despite Johnson's youth.

It's a great deal for both sides, but I will give the edge to St. Louis on paper, right now.

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