The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t waiting for Brian Burke to come in and start making moves, as the club traded defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak on Monday.
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First of all, I find it odd that the Leafs are making trades considering that the Brian Burke rumors are gaining steam and some believe he will be GM by the end of the week. If that is the case, then why is Cliff Fletcher making trades before the new GM comes in? That aside, I personally think this deal could work well for both sides, however, I give the edge to the Blues.
For the Leafs, it gives them a scoring winger who tallied a career high 27 goals in 2006/07. Stempniak is only 25 years old and is just under a point-per-game so far this season. That said, he almost certainly isn’t going to continue his point-per-game pace and is more likely going to end up in the 50-60 point range. Stempniak is under contract this season at $2.5 million and next season at $3.5 million. Most importantly, he adds some scoring up front to a Leafs team that can use all the talented forwards they can get.
In terms of the Blues, they have a fair amount of depth up front (when healthy) and can really afford to trade Stempniak without having much of a drop off in terms of offensive production. The Blues receive Steen who is slated to make $1.7 million both this year and next year and Colaiacovo who is slated to make $1.4 million both this year and next year. So total, the Blues take on $6.2 million in salary as part of this deal and trade the $6 million remaining on Stempniak’s deal.
Taking into account the fact that Steen has a career points-per-game of .49 and Stempniak has a career points-per-game of .55, these players aren’t much different than each other in terms of production. They both are career minus players, and neither plays an overly physical, penalty-ridden game.
Also, we can’t forget about Colaiacovo who was the defenseman of the future in Toronto for what seemed like years. He didn’t live up to his potential in the center of the hockey universe but if he can stay healthy (big if), the Blues could use a player just like him on their blue line. He is a good puck mover and has nice offensive skill and with a reasonable contract already signed, Colaiacovo doesn’t carry much risk aside from his injury history.
Considering Steen is cheaper than Stempniak and he was traded along with the talented but oft-injured Colaiacovo, I really see this deal having more upside for St. Louis.