The Blues/Avalanche trade on Friday night has to go down as the most bizarre and most strangely timed trade of the season. The trade, which was announced at around 2 am Eastern Time (thank heaven I live on the West Coast) saw the Blues trade defenseman Erik Johnson, forward Jay McClement, and a conditional first-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche for forward Chris Stewart, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and a conditional second-round pick.
Although the 22-year-old Johnson likely has his best NHL years ahead of him, this trade was scrutinized by many who felt that the Avalanche paid a steep price to acquire the former first-round pick. Stewart is a 23-year-old power forward with 30+ goal potential (gold in multicategory fantasy leagues), while the 21-year-old Shattenkirk has amazing power-play upside. Both new Blues are also recent former first-round picks who have also demonstrated that they are worthwhile fantasy options today. The freak golf cart accident that sidelined Johnson for an entire year likely slowed his development, but EJ has to be considered a mild disappointment considering the names drafted after him in 2006 (Jonathan Toews, Jordan Staal, Nicklas Backstrom, Phil Kessel).
To justify the trade from the Avs’ perspective, they are acquiring McClement, a role player with grit and character, which is something that the Avs seem to be sorely lacking right now. In addition, the Avs acquire a first-round pick for a second-round pick. Still like many, I believe that the Avs ended up with the short end of the stick on this one, but we will need a good ten years to evaluate this trade based on the ages of the parties involved.
Here is a breakdown of the trade from a fantasy perspective, based on what I’ve seen, heard, felt, assumed, and so on.
Johnson should gain value with this trade. He struggled at times with the Blues, especially this season. Johnson was a mass drop in many leagues after a subpar 19 points and (-8) in 55 games this season. But he will be the man in Colorado, as evidenced by his 26 minutes of icetime in his Avs debut. He had been bumped down to the second power-play unit in St. Louis, so moving back to a first unit should only help his value. Those needing help on defense could take a flier on Johnson.
Shattenkirk’s and Stewart’s fantasy values should remain about the same as they had in Colorado. Stewart scored two goals in his Avs’ debut, so he could propel this fresh start into something good for his fantasy owners for the balance of the season after he had struggled mightily following his return from a hand injury. Shattenkirk added one assist and should see time on the Blues’ first-unit power play. Both players should help the Blues’ 25th-ranked power play, an Achilles heel for the Blues for the past few seasons.
The likes of T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald, and Patrik Berglund should also gain value in the trade. Oshie and McDonald were the Blues’ most significant weapons on Saturday (two goals and one assist each) in a 9-3 thumping of Anaheim. Stewart gives the Blues another legit scoring option that plays hard-nosed and will handle the rough stuff in front of the net. Berglund and Oshie should be able to rack up a ton of assists passing to Stewart.
Stewart is practically a clone to David Backes, which will make the Blues a tough piece of business to play against. The Stewart trade could reduce some wear and tear on Backes, although the two power forwards will probably play on separate lines.
The one Blues scorer who stands to lose value is Brad Boyes. Now potentially a third right wing, Boyes will likely see a reduction in icetime, which started to show on Saturday (13 minutes). Don’t forget that he was a player that was shopped around at last year’s deadline. With the Blues apparently in selling mode, don’t be surprised if Boyes is exchanged for a prospect or a draft pick at this year’s deadline.
Over on the Avs, the likes of Paul Stastny and/or Matt Duchene could potentially lose value now that power forward Stewart won’t be there to light the lamp. The Avs may have Tomas Fleischmann and Peter Mueller to fill the scoring void next season, although neither player is as physical a force as Stewart. The one player who could benefit short term is David Jones, who seems to be a slam dunk to reach 20 goals unless he suffers yet another injury.
John-Michael Liles could also lose value with this deal, now that the Avs will structure their defense around Johnson. With the Avs’ season quickly becoming a lost cause, Liles (one point in his last nine games) may find himself with a new address by next Monday. A trade may help his value this season, depending on where he lands.
Chat with you again at the trade deadline… or quite possibly before… – Ian
Now here is Michael Tedone’s analysis, mainly from a keeper perspective.
Berglund- helps. He is an elite talent now with a big skilled power forward in Stewart to play with, huge beneficiary, and all but solidifies him as a consistent 75+ forward option within a season or two playing with an elite winger in Stewart. 16 in 16 without Stewart and will only build on that moving forward. I also had him as a prime breakout candidate next year pre-trade, so this only further reinforces that.
Johnson- helps. He is in a better position to produce in COL and will be more heavily depended upon offensively than with Alex Pietrangelo in the mix in STL. Will not live up to his draft day expectations due to ACL damage (replace with a patellar tendon strip with is thicker and less pliable than ACL, only will reach 85-90% of pre-injury expectations/skating ability) but will have a much better shot at 50+ running PP in COL than he would contending with Pietrangelo in STL who has a better offensive skill-set to Johnson. Liles is not a threat to him PP-wiseand is more of a distributor than a shooter anyway which helps Johnson more than playing with Shattenkirk/Pietrangelo would. The loss of Stewart also makes COL more likely to run 2D-3F than 1D-4F on the power play.
Oshie- helps. In the short term he likely will line up with Stewart and Berglund on the wing. Oshie is also a bit assist heavy where a big skilled goal heavy power forward like Stewart suits him and longer term all three of them (Berglund, Stewart, Oshie) are locks on the STL top PP unit up front regardless of whether or not Oshie returns to C or remains as a W with Berglund. Only guy that can bump Oshie is Vladimir Tarasenko, but that won’t be for a few years. It still needs to be determined, like with many Russians both from a physical and mental standpoint, how his game will translate at the NHL level. A definite gain, though, for Oshie short term and probably long term as well.
Pietrangelo- hurts because Shattenkirk plays a very similar style to him and has just as high an offensive ceiling if not higher. Johnson was less of threat in that regard and only had a booming shot and better defensive skills than Pietrangelo, both of which are of little threat to Pietrangelo’s offensive numbers and PP QB role, again unlike with a very formidable Shattenkirk in the mix.
Shattenkirk- hurts because he has more formidable competition in Pietrangelo as opposed to having the reigns handed to him in COL as their long term PP QB alongside Stastny, Duchene, and what would’ve been Stewart. Now he will likely share PP QB responsibilities which should level out their numbers given their similar styles of play. Here is a potential Alexander Edler - Christian Ehrhoff type situation, but in the case of Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk both should hit 50 consistently each season although 60+ with both of them up there and healthy is less likely than the Pietrangelo-Johnson STL and Shattenkirk COL situations. Shattenkirk has a better offensive skill-set than Johnson as well and is far from a liability in his own end defensively. As well, he has good leadership capacity and mental fitness on top of it, so he is a great addition for the Blues. However, his ceiling lowers a bit in his new situation from what it would have been running the show in Colorado long term.
Stastny- hurts because there is minimal winger depth in COL with Stewart gone and as an elite playmaker he needs a strong finisher like Stewart to play with to effectively utilize that asset. They are now severely lacking in that department in COL.
Duchene- no difference. He is an all-around centerman with plenty of goal scoring ability, so he won’t lose much in Stewart’s absence unlike in the case of Stastny. If anything, he will be less hesitant about pulling the trigger on the PP as their top goal scoring threat.
Backes and David Perron- hurts. Both had an outside chance to log top PP time if either Pietrangelo or Shattenkirk ran away with the job or Johnson proved ineffective on the PP, but now will likely both be odd men out on top PP unit but still top 6 forwards. Backes will likely be named captain with Eric Brewer and Johnson now gone. Oftentimes when adopting to that role, a player is forced to restrict himself a bit more from a PIMs standpoint which will hurt his value in multi-cat leagues, and the added pressure of taking on that responsibility may potentially stagnate his stats depending how he deals with it. Perron loses his lock role on the top PP unit to Stewart, which hurts his value.
Steen- hurts. Steen’s SOG totals and by extension also his production will take a hit as well without PP time and in a reduced offensive role. Steen will also now be bumped from top 6 role and relegated to third line status upon Tarasenko’s emergence, which is very bad for his value longer term.
Boyes- no difference. He will be dealt at the deadline or just not resigned. Either way, he will not return to STL.
Carlo Colaiacovo – hurts. He loses what little chance he had of playing with Pietrangelo on the top PP unit in STL now with Shattenkirk in the mix and likely will end up with the same fate as Boyes.
Tarasenko – helps modestly as this will have Berglund develop closer to his 90 point ceiling and that will only result in big numbers should his game translate at the NHL level. Stewart’s power forward style also helps make space out there for both Berglund and Tarasenko to really work magic even strength should Oshie move back to a #2 center role. As mentioned above, though again Stewart in the mix will bump Steen into a third line role once Tarasenko enters the NHL, which wouldn’t have been the case before.
McDonald – maybe helps but likely no difference. Andy Mac will not be in STL long term, but in one-year leagues this move could help his value considerably for this season if Stewart is slotted with McDonald this year over Berglund. Either way, I don’t see McDonald’s stay in STL lasting much longer
Stewart – helps modestly. I think Berglund will be just as good as Stastny and even has the upside, the 6′4″ frame, and a tremendous skill-set and most importantly skating ability to where he very likely will be a better centerman than Stastny long term. Stewart also has alot more help on the wings even strength now to play with as opposed to guys like T.J. Galiardi, Kevin Porter, Jones, the aging Milan Hejduk, and Mueller with concussion issues. He’s only 23 right now, but has Corey Perry-like upside and very high likelihood to make good on that upside, and between the last half of last season and pre-wrist injury this season was a top 10 option in most multi-cat settings and will only continue to build on that. He should be a 40-40 guy with solid PIMs in either COL or STL so I see his value as the same in STL and will be more relied upon as a leader in STL than with Stastny and Duchene up front and what would’ve been Shattenkirk/Johnson on the back end in Colorado. STL is also more secure in net with Jaroslav Halak than with Brian Elliott/Peter Budaj in COL, which should help him +/- wise and keep STL in a lot more games than COL.
Helps – Berglund, Johnson, Oshie, Ryan Stoa/Jones/Porter/Galiardi (2 will get top a 6 role), Fleischmann (will slot himself in Stewart PP slot long term) and modestly helps Stewart, Mueller, and Tarasenko, but the latter three pretty much control their own fates for the most part.
Hurts – Stastny (no elite wingers/finishers), Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo because of each other and similar style of play less secure PP job likely also cut into each other’s numbers/ceilings, Colaiacovo no chance at top PP duties, Steen third line relegation when Tarasenko emerges, Perron very likely lost chance at top PP duties but will remain a top 6 forward, Backes also likely lost potential PP slot but he too will remain top 6 forward, however will likely gain captaincy, limiting PIMs and possibly point production/value in multi-cat leagues.
No change – Duchene, Liles, Boyes (will be traded or not resigned anyway), and likely McDonald, but might help short term depending where Stewart is slotted this season.
COL also now went from likely better than STL long term to worse than STL long term with this deal, no question. STL is stacked up front now between Berglund, Stewart, Oshie, Backes, Perron, Tarasenko top 6 plus Steen as well in the mix. Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk on D are two of the top future offensive defenseman in the league. As well, with Halak in net and Jake Allen also in their system as well, they will be ridiculous long term and in the very near future. STL easily win this deal from a real-life standpoint as well.
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