Friday was an incredible day in St. Louis, as the Blues made a trade which could impact the future of the Central Division for years to come.
The Blues started the day by trading away 31-year-old captain Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay for junior defenseman Brock Beukeboom and a draft pick. It's a bold statement any time a team trades away its captain, but to do it for a player in juniors and a draft pick is certainly a big move.
Then the Blues rocked the hockey world with an incredible trade with the Colorado Avalanche that was announced after midnight central time.
The Blues traded defenseman Erik Johnson, the top overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, and center Jay McClement to the Colorado Avalanche for forward Chris Stewart (the 18th overall pick in 2006) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, the Avs' first round pick in the 2007 Draft. St. Louis is also sending a first round pick to Colorado, while the Avs are sending a second round pick back to St. Louis.
Stewart has dealt with injuries this year, and has been limited to only 36 games. But he has 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in those 36 games, and is coming off a season in which he scored 28 even-strength goals. At 6'2" and 228 pounds, the 23-year-old Stewart could become one of the dominant players in the Central for years to come.
Shattenkirk, meanwhile, has 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 46 games this season, ranking among the leading rookie defensemen in scoring.
Both Stewart and Shattenkirk are expected to be in the Blues lineup when they host the Blackhawks on Monday afternoon.
Johnson, who will turn 23 in mid-March, had 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) in 79 games with the Blues last year, but has struggled this year. He will add size (6'4", 232) to the Avs' blue line.
It's rare to see this many young, impact players move in a trade 10 days before the trade deadline, but clearly both Colorado and St. Louis feel that they are in a position to look at the 2011-12 season and beyond.