Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blues trade with Avalanche done with calculation

Magnitude of deal not a knee-jerk transaction;
Stewart, Shattenkirk make debuts in victory over Anaheim

ST. LOUIS -- A deal of such magnitude that took place between the Blues and Colorado Avalanche wasn't by any means a knee-jerk reaction deal.

This was calculated and took time to get the proper pieces in order.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said Saturday morning that the trade that sent defenseman and top overall pick Erik Johnson, checking center Jay McClement and a conditional No. 1 pick to the Avalanche for power forward Chris Stewart, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional No. 2 pick began to spin its wheels around the All-Star break, along with a number of different talks.

"Really since the end of the All Star Break, the phone lines have been quite a bit more active talking to a lot of teams about a lot of different things," Armstrong said. "We were talking and seeing how our team was going to play, seeing where we were when we traded Eric Brewer what our thought process was going to be, and all of the other deals we were contemplating were hockey trades and hockey trades are a rarity in today’s game.

"It took a little time to work with (Colorado GM) Greg Sherman ... I don't want to go into the exact timelines. It's not something that happens overnight. The names became involved, we talked to our pro scouts, John Davidson gave me excellent counsel on how to move forward with Larry Pleau and ownership, and I think it was very important for us to make a proper deal moving forward and I think that happens over time and it came to fruition last night."

In a nutshell, the emergence of Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues' top pick (No. 4 overall) in 2008, made this deal possible. Without Pietrangelo's rapid emergence, the Blues don't feel quite as comfortable making this trade.

"I think anytime you have good hockey player, it makes deals easier and Petro’s done a good job here," Armstrong said of Pietrangelo. "I would be na├»ve or probably disingenuous if I say I'm not surprised at how, or I am surprised at how good he's playing so quickly. I'm not as surprised today as I was two months ago because you see it every day now. He's a special player and when I look at our right side with Petro there and Roman Polak and now Shattenkirk I believe it's a right side that we can move and go forward with, and I think Petro and Roman made a deal like this possible."

Shattenkirk, 22, was the Avalanche's first-round pick (14th overall) in 2007. He's second among rookie defensemen with 26 points (19 assists), behind only Anaheim's Cam Fowler (29 points).

"Shattenkirk has shown the ability to be a real good decision maker, a real good puck distribution guy, a guy who can make decisions under pressure and allow zone time to be more effective and take what the opponent is giving you," Blues coach Davis Payne said.

"We did lose a little bit of size (Shattenkirk is 5-foot-11, 193 pounds), but we did gain puck creativity on the blue line," Armstrong said. "You always have to give something to get something. There'll be a mandate for our players to play on the back end. ... It's going to be something that we're going to have to work on."

Both players, just like the members who departed St. Louis, had whirlwind days just getting to their destinations.

For the Blues' newcomers, it was worth the adventure but nevertheless shocking to have to alter their lives.

"I found about 11 o'clock (Friday night) I was being traded here," Stewart said. "We had a 4 o'clock (in the morning) shuttle to San Francisco. We flew from San Francisco to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City in here. Came in about 1:30, grabbed some lunch, relaxed for about an hour and came to the rink."

Added Shattenkirk, "It was obviously shocking, but as a rookie, you learn that it's a business and that happens. You kind of have to roll with it and happy to be here."

The Blues seemed to embrace their new teammates with open arms.

"It's tough losing a couple buddies, especially core guys that I kind of came into the team with," T.J. Oshie said. "It's a business side. We got two good players and we lost two good ones. Just a different look, but great additions."

Shattenkirk felt that if he looked at the positive side of it in that the Blues wanted him and Stewart instead of the Avalanche giving up on them, it makes the transition that much easier.

"They emphasized that," said Shattenkirk, who Stewart said has the game of San Jose's Dan Boyle. "It was something that they wanted. Obviously they gave up a great player in Erik Johnson. They seem pretty excited about it, and I'm excited about being here. They obviously have a lot of confidence for us to come in here and then hopefully contribute."

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