Last night I watched the Blues beat the Sabres 3-0, played some X-Box and went to bed.
I was still a little miffed that the Blues had basically handed Steve Yzermen and the Lightning Eric Brewer and gotten not much in return. To me, and others, it looked like Doug Armstrong, JD and Co. were shedding salary and starting Rebuild 2.0. I wasn't happy.
The texts from Poor College Student and Gallagher came 15 minutes apart, but I was sound asleep. I didn't understand anything beyond the swearing. I just assumed both were out having cocktails and were just pissed about the Brewer deal.
At 3:30 a.m. my phone rang. My buddy NatetheGreat was calling. He lives in New York so this 4:30 a.m. call confused me. Was he in prison? I bet he was in prison.
In a sleepy haze, I answered my phone and Nate told me the Blues had dealt Silent Jay McClement, Erik Johnson and a first round pick to Colorado for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second rounder. Needless to say, I woke up pretty fast.
I was silent for a for seconds while the hamster in my brain woke up and started running on that wheel again.
Once the hamster got going at full 3:30 a.m. speed, I was able to process the deal. My reaction? I love it.
I've often been accused of being a negative person, and that's mostly accurate. However that's not the case here. I love this deal. Here's why.
Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk are really good.
We don't get a lot of chance to see the Avalanche around here, but these guys are good. As a 22-year-old in his second NHL season, Stewart potted 28 goals and had 64 points. Both of those are better than anyone on the Blues put up last season.
This year Stewart has 30 points in 37 games. Had he not broken his hand fighting, he could have a boatload more. The kid can score, he can fight, he can score and most importantly he can score. Let's be honest here, the Blues needed a goal scorer more than Davis Payne needs hair. A team of 20-goal scorers is balanced, but when this team needed a goal, there wasn't a line to put out there. Now there is.
My best guess is Stewart is the top winger on the first line. Good bye Brad Boyes, hello Chris Stewart. Andy McDonald will play the left wing, David Backes will play center and I'll be happy. With Stewart and Backes banging bodies and being power forwards, McDonald should have a lot more room to create and do his thing. More open ice for the McDonald makes him a dangerous player.
Boyes gets dumped on a lot around here, but he's having a decent season. He's never going to score 40 goals again, but 37 points this year isn't bad.
The Blues also announced today that young Philip McRae would be back up, signaling Cam Janssen's return to the press box and the Blues desire to have three scoring lines. McRae should center the third line with Boyes on his wing and either Brad Winchester or Matt D'Agostini on the other wing. That's not a bad third line.
On defense, Alex Pietrangelo becomes the No. 1 guy. I would say no pressure, but he doesn't know what that word means. Petro is a beast and will probably be paired with Barret Jackman as the No. 1 pair. Last night Nikita Nikitin and Roman Polak were paired up and looked pretty good. Nikitin and his forehead visor have been playing well this time around-he seems to have finally gotten it. That leaves the third pairing for Carlo Coalaiacovo and Captain Kirk-Captain and Cola.
Shattenkirk was having a great year. Reports are that he's an offensive defensemen and the Blues could use that. After dumping Eric Brewer and EJ, the Blues need some punch. In his rookie year, Shattenkirk was outscoring both of those guys.
There's a new sheriff in town
Doug Armstrong has balls. We knew that this summer with the Jaroslav Halak deal and this deal just reinforces it.
This current Blues team has been basically around for three years now and things were getting stale. The team quit on Andy Murray and got him fired. Larry Pleau retired, so a new GM was brought in. Next in line to blame for the struggles in the players. It's time they're held accountable.
The kids, it appeared to me at least, had too much power. There comes a time when you have to let them know that they can't keep making the same mistakes without consequences.
This has nothing to do with injuries-a lot of teams would have struggled with the injuries like the Blues have. This has to do with waking up the room. These guys are seem pretty tight and you know what, that's great, but if you like playing together so much, you gotta win.
Armstrong put his head on the line for this. If EJ turns into what he could and Stewart is just a flash in the pan, the Armstrong messed up. Big time. But a change needed to be made. The room needed to be shaken up. Maybe the players will get their heads in the game, play a full 60 minutes and stop making so many mental errors.
The Blues didn't give up too much
I like Erik Johnson, but he was in idle. Five years after being taken first overall, the Blues still didn't know what they had. This year, he took a step back offensively and was never the best defensively.
In the Olympics, EJ was a beast, but we rarely saw that. The fact is, Petro shot past EJ on the depth chart. Petro oozes poise, EJ can be a head case.
If the Blues were intent on selling EJ, they had to do it now. He still has/had a ton of value. And still brings a good return.
Think of the last two prospect deals the Blues have made-Aaron Palushaj for Dags and Lars Eller for Jaro. Both of the players have yet to set the world on fire in the Blues organization. If we're supposed to trust to Blues to draft these players, shouldn't we trust them to know when the gig is up? As is often said, they know more than we do. If they think EJ needed to be traded, then he should have been on the first trade out of here.
The Blues dealt Johnson while he still had value and got a good return. I don't think he'll turn into a Norris Trophy winner when he can't even be the best defender on his team. Besides, Petro will make the Norris Trophy his in a few years and it will all be a moot point.
Losing Jay McClement sucks as a fan, but he's replaceable. I don't want to toot my own horn or take too much credit, but I pretty much started the love for Jay around here. Last year Brad said McDonald was the most important, I argued Jay was more important. Game Time fell in love.
Here's the thing about Jay though, he's a piece in the system. He got all the praise for leading the No. 1 PK unit last year, where was the blame for leading the No. 19 PK unit? He's only wining 51.4 percent of faceoffs and is -13. He wasn't going to win the Selke this year.
In reality, he's a bottom-6 forward and likely a fourth-liner. That's not too much to give up. Vladimir Sobotka can do that.
In my mind, this is a good deal. The Blues were idling and needed a shakeup.