Erik Johnson and Jay McClement Colorado Bound

Erik Johnson and Jay McClement Colorado Bound

Thought the Eric Brewer trade shook things up? The Blues saved their enormous trade for just after 1am in the morning local time. Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first round pick are heading toward the Avalanche in exchange for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional second round pick. Wow. Absolutely huge, huge trade.

So long EJ – please don’t make us regret this one. Suffering a pretty sluggish season, the Blues have obviously seen enough and believe they have enough depth at blueline to pull the trigger on a move that will send EJ to a new squad. One has to believe that the huge emergence of Alex Pietrangelo likely had a hand in why the Blues felt EJ was expendable.

Joining EJ in Colorado is Jay “Silent J” McClement. One of the best defensive forwards the Blues have had on their roster in the past several years, McClement is usually a major player on the penalty kill and often gets the job done while completely avoiding the spotlight.

The Blues also are sending a conditional first rounder in either 2011 or 2012 – if the team has a top-10 pick this year, Colorado gets next year’s. If they don’t have a top-10 pick this season, then Colorado will get it this year.

Then there’s the part you’re really waiting for – what are we getting in return?

Well, you can’t say the Blues haven’t heard your cries for offense.

Welcome Chris Stewart and one of the most fun names in hockey to say, Kevin Shattenkirk. Also, throw in a conditional second round pick in either 2011 or 2012.

Chris Stewart is a player to get excited about. Drafted in the first round (18th overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft, Stewart has already proven he can find the net regularly in his young career. His rookie campaign in 2008-09 got things off to a slow start as he only notched 11 goals and eight assists in 53 games. However, you can throw the sophomore slump out the window as last year he tallied 28 goals and 36 assists in 77 games. So far in the current year Stewart was set back with an injury, but has still managed 13 goals and 17 assists in 36 games.

Stewart did have a slow return to the lineup recently due to a broken hand, but the winger is immensely talented and will slide right into the St. Louis lineup as soon as he arrives. Unlike the Brewer trade, you’ll see the impacts of this deal immediately.

Then there’s Kevin Shattenkirk. Yes, I’ll wait while you make the obvious Star Trek jokes. Shattenkirk is another former first rounder as he was selected 14th overall in the 2007 NHL Draft. This season marks the defenseman’s first in the NHL and the rookie has already done well scoring seven goals and 19 assists for 26 points in 46 games.

The future could be very bright for Shattenkirk and I’m happy he was apart of this deal.

Immediate Thoughts

First, I can’t believe this trade broke around 1am St. Louis time. Two, evidently the two new pickups by the Blues will be in the lineup for the team’s game against Anaheim on Saturday.

Erik Johnson – I’m personally sad to see him go as he was a personal favorite. That being said, this trade might make sense for both the organization and for EJ as a player. Clearly, his career got off on the wrong foot with the infamous golf accident. Clearly, this season was not a positive sign for a younger player trying to become a top d-man. Pietrangelo’s immediate success makes Johnson’s lack of success more glaringly obvious. As one Twitter user commented, Petro has been making EJ look like a rookie.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know the full story of what goes on behind closed doors when talks and trades like this take place. The Blues must see something wrong in EJ’s development or they must have re-evaluated him and realized he might not meet all the lofty expectations fans had for him here. Johnson had to live up to the billing of being a first overall pick and so far in his young career he has not met that criteria. Perhaps a change of scenery will get him back on track.

Losing EJ also isn’t completely unexpected. Blues are showing nice depth at the blueline and EJ can fetch a pretty penny on the open market – as evidenced by the Blues nabbing a solid young scorer and another talented d-man.

The Blues clearly need scoring. Scoring doesn’t come cheap and you have to give up talent in order to improve other areas of the roster.

Then there’s McClement. I love his work ethic and attitude, but the Blues have consistently been a team loaded with more role-players than actual game-changers. McClement is defensively-minded and the Blues need a spark in the offense. Chris Stewart is that spark.

I’ve got to say, I think the Blues did pretty well here. Stewart is a guy I have liked for a couple years now and I think he could bring a much-needed punch to this offense. EJ is showing some troubling signs in his development and while I hope he turns it around, this might have been the Blues cutting ties with a “busted” first overall pick – only time will tell on that one.

Lastly – to all the fans they may be upset with the deal: You’ve demanded offense. You’ve cried for offense. This organization just made a serious move to land some offensive help. Don’t be too quick to outburst against it because the club had to give value in return in order to land value.