Two Years On And Still Defending the Erik Johnson Trade

February 19th 2011, Avs General Manager Greg Sherman pulled the trigger on one of the biggest trades the franchise has been involved in since it’s pre-lockout hey day under Pierre Lacroix.

Colorado acquired Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first-round draft pick in either 2011 or 2012 whilst St Louis added Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional second-round draft pick in 2011 or 2012.

It was a trade that split the fan base then, and seemingly still does.

But I’m still defending it.

The picture on Puck Daddy this morning, taken at last nights Avs Blues game, is a perfect example of how a large number of fans feel about the deal even now:

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Bad trade? Not in my book.

Sherman took a gamble, there is little doubt of that. Stewart had 28 goals in 2009/10 and represented a ‘rare breed’ as a young power forward with a right handed shot. Whilst Shattenkirk was arguably the Avs leading defensive prospect at the time.

Johnson was a former 1st overall pick who’d lost an entire season to a knee injury sustained in a golf cart accident…

I can certainly understand some fans dismay at the deal. On paper at the time it seemed like a win for the Blues – but for me it was an attempt to address a need the Avalanche had had since Rob Blake left town; Sherman went looking for a number 1 defenceman.

They wanted Johnson to be that number 1 D man. And who can blame them? Johnson did not go first overall for no reason, and plenty of players have breathed new life in to their careers by moving clubs. This was a calculated risk by Sherman to address a serious hole in the line up.

What is also often lost in talk about the trade is what became of the ‘other player’ in this trade, and perhaps most importantly the pick; which turned in to the Avs second first round pick of the 2011 draft.

Jay McClement was a very useful depth center. Good in the face-off circle, he didn’t break any points records but provided strength down the middle as Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly found their feet in the NHL.

The pick turned in to Duncan Siemens, someone the Avs hope will patrol the blue line alongside Johnson in years to come and another good addition to the Avs defensive prospect list.

As time has passed, Johnson perhaps hasn’t quite hit the heights that, say, someone like Drew Doughty has reached. But at 24 there is still time and even if he continues along this path the Avs have a solid top 2 D man for less than $4m.

The recent emergence of Tyson Barrie has helped Avs fans forget about Shattenkirk, whilst Chris Stewart has never really recaptured the form of his break out 09/10 season.

Two years on, it still seems to me that Sherman made the right decision for a club looking to get back to contender status. He tried to acquire a franchise defenceman to bolster a blue line with little going for it – how could that be deemed to be a ‘bad’ decision?

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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