Blues Deal Erik Johnson


Erik Johnson, the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the player that St. Louis was expected to rebuild their defence around, has been traded to the Colorado Avalanche along with forward Jay McClement and a first round pick in exchange for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second round draft pick.  If the Blues pick this year is in the top-10, both the first round pick from St. Louis and the second round pick from Colorado will come from the 2012 Draft.

Analysis after the jump.

Johnson has spent most of his time this season on the Blues’ second pairing, in addition to regular duty on both the power play and the penalty kill.  He’s had a relatively disappointing year; despite the fact that he hasn’t been asked to handle the toughest opposition and has had one of the most favourable Zone Start ratios on the team.  He is, however, just 22 years of age and prior to this season has looked like an offensive difference maker.  It is very early for the Blues to be giving up on him, no matter the return.  Particularly given that Johnson lost all of 2008-09 to injury.

While Johnson is clearly the key piece in this trade from a Colorado perspective, Jay McClement is also an important player.  He’s a classic checking-line forward; he has been matched against tough opponents for years now, takes a massive share of the team’s defensive zone draws, and is a go-to guy on the penalty kill.  He’s routinely a minus player, but that’s simply a side effect of the role he’s playing.

Chris Stewart broke out as an offensive player one season ago with a 28-goal, 64-point effort, and looks on pace to put up the same sort of totals this year.  He’s been a phenomenal even-strength scorer over the past season and a half, and that’s where the bulk of his points come; he hasn’t been able to duplicate that success on the power play.  Interestingly, both his junior and his AHL numbers are underwhelming, but what he’s done over the past 100 NHL games is undeniable.  St. Louis is getting a very good, albeit still somewhat raw forward in this deal.

Kevin Shattenkirk might be the most interesting player in the deal.  Sixty percent of his shifts start in the offensive zone, plays the easiest competition on the Colorado blue-line, racks up points as a power play specialist, and has the worst plus/minus of any Avalanche defender.  He’s very young and it is always possible he’ll develop into more than an offensive specialist, but I don’t know that I’d be willing to bet on it.

Add in the exchange of draft picks, and I’d say the Avalanche made out very well on this deal.  Erik Johnson is the best player in the deal, and McClement is a known commodity; Stewart is a very, very interesting player but still something of a risk while Shattenkirk is one-dimensional and may very well remain that way.