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Dreger: Early analysis of Leafs/Blues trade

Darren Dreger
11/24/2008 4:17:17 PM
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Two first-round draft picks for a fifth rounder is one way of looking at the Alex Steen-Carlo Colaiacovo trade for Lee Stempniak.

Toronto selected Colaiacovo 17th overall in 2001 and picked Alex Steen 24th overall in 2002.

Lee Stempniak, meanwhile, was drafted 148th overall by the Blues in 2003 with former Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson a key figure at the St. Louis draft table at the time.

St. Louis identified the potential availability of Steen and Colaiacovo by heavily scouting the Leafs and observing Steen's diminishing role and Colaiacovo's fight to stay in the lineup based on poor health and numbers.

St. Louis and Toronto completed the three-player swap this morning following a few days of discussion.

Analyzing trades shortly after they're made is a tricky business, but the quick reaction from around the NHL is that Lee Stempniak for Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen doesn't address Toronto's needs.

If Toronto is truly in a "rebuild", the belief is that a package for either player (or both) - as St. Louis managed to swing - should have included draft picks.

Currently, the Leafs have five picks in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and just five in the 2010 Draft as well.

Sooner than later, Leafs management, supervised by either Cliff Fletcher or Brian Burke, is going to have to start stockpiling draft picks.

At 25, Stempniak is labelled as a goal scorer based on a 2006-07 season that included 27 goals and 52 points in 82 games.  But his production nose-dived last year and he finished the season with just 13 goals.

Stempniak is making $2.5 million this year and $3.5 million next year and takes up $2.5 million in cap space, slightly less than the combined hit of Colaiacovo and Steen.

In the end, the Leafs get a young, skilled, right-handed player who has proven he can score, while the Blues receive a checking centre who lacks confidence and a defenceman who, in the eyes of his coach, just did not fit.

Darren Dreger

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