Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey | Last updated 2/16/12
It was almost exactly a year ago that the hockey world saw a couple middle-of-the-road teams make a relatively substantial trade. It took most by surprise, but the impact of the deal was questioned immediately.
Most thought the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues were exchanging disappointments in a deal involving four players that were former first round picks.
Early in the morning on Feb. 19, 2011, the Blues traded defenseman Erik Johnson, forward Jay McClement and a first round pick to the Avs for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, forward Chris Stewart and a second round pick.
Johnson was the first overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by St. Louis, ahead of Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom and Phil Kessel. Shattenkirk and Stewart were first round selections of Colorado's in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Both sides of the trade told their respective fans that this was a win-win deal. The 2010-11 season ended with the Blues and Avs both watching the playoffs on television. St. Louis finished 11th in the West, while Colorado fell to 14th in the conference.
After the dust settled and the games had been played, though, the deal started to show indications of being a decisive victory for one side.
Johnson arrived in Colorado and continued to struggle. He posted just 10 points and was minus-5 in 22 games for the Avalanche. McClement, meanwhile, completely disappeared offensively. He scored only one goal and added three assists in 24 games in Denver.
On the other hand, Stewart finished the year strong, posting 23 points in 26 games in St. Louis. Shattenkirk, a rookie at the time, also gave the Blues a big bounce on offense, registering 17 points in 26 contests.
With both teams missed out on the playoffs, though, the flashes of both mediocrity and brilliance ended up meaning little more than providing material for offseason discussion in watering holes in the two cities.
Now that we're 12 months out from the blockbuster, the deal has become one of the worst trades in recent memory, and Colorado's fans have every right to feel slighted by the move.
Johnson is averaging his lowest ice-time since his rookie season, and is on the wrong side of the plus-minus ledger again. His 20 points in 51 games isn't what the Avs were hoping to get from the former top overall selection. McClement's ice-time is also significantly down this year, his lowest average since the 2007-08 season. He has put up only 13 points for Colorado in 55 games.
Stewart did not continue his point-per-game pace that was on display late last year, but he has been a physical presence in the lineup for Ken Hitchcock and still has potential.
The gem in the deal was Shattenkirk, who has emerged as a legitimate top-pair defenseman this season. He's a plus-21 and has 23 points, but what's more important is that he and Alex Pietrangelo have shown signs of being two of the better young defensemen in the league.
Colorado is fighting to climb into the playoff picture in the Western Conference. St. Louis, on the other hand, has been the hottest team in the West, outside of Detroit, since Hitchcock took over behind the bench. They're among the top teams in the entire NHL and lead the league in goals-against average, and Shattenkirk is a key part of the equation.
As the 2012 trade deadline approaches, it will be interesting to see if another surprising blockbuster shocks the league and changes the futures of a couple franchises the way this deal did to Colorado and St. Louis a year ago.
Photos credit: Getty Images
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