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Sherman Getting Schooled In Trades

When Greg Sherman took over as Colorado Avalanche GM it was seen as a surprising move since Sherman is a financial/salary cap guy with questionable hockey background.  His first big trades as general manager have come in the past few days as the 2011 trade deadline approached.  He has exchanged goaltenders with Ottawa, sending Craig Anderson to Ottawa for Brian Elliott.  Then he traded Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second round pick to St Louis for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first round draft pick. 

It seems that this is born out of desperation as Colorado has not won in their last nine games and has only one win to show for their last 12 starts.  It is never a good idea to trade out of desperation and these deals have not helped the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado has a young improving core.  They took a bigger step forward last year than they may have been ready for and have had trouble repeating that performance this season.  However a team built around Paul Stastny, Chris Stewart, Matt Duchene, Kevin Shattenkirk and Craig Anderson should be a solid playoff team for the next few years.  We will never know because half of that core is now gone.

Anderson finished fifth in the Vezina Trophy voting last year.  He even received a first place vote in the Hart Trophy race, though he finished well back of the lead.  He had a very strong first season as an NHL starter.  He hasn’t had a follow up season that has been as good, though he has had defensive problems in front of him, Nevertheless he has put up better numbers than Brian Elliott this season.  It is quite reasonable to think that Elliott will never be the goalie that Anderson is.  This is a bad trade for the Avs.  They downgraded their goaltending.

In their St Louis trade, Chris Stewart was sent out.  Stewart is a young talented power forward.  He caught fire in the latter half of last season and was among the top scorers in the league this year until he was slowed by a broken hand.  Even though he is back, he clearly isn’t 100% yet, as he hasn’t regained his scoring touch.  Kevin Shattenkirk is a good young offensive defenceman.  He is having a strong rookie year.  He and Stewart are successful first round draft choices.  While he may not have the pedigree of first overall pick Erik Johnson, he is younger and scoring at a much higher rate this season.  I think Johnson has been overrated by his high draft position.  While he is a solid defenceman, he definitely doesn’t possess the upside of Chris Stewart and he may not have the upside of Kevin Shattenkirk.  Jay McClement is the other piece of the trade.  He is one of the best “pure” defensive forwards in hockey - in that he has little offensive value and most of his value is defensive.  While he has value, he cannot be a frontline star the way the other players in the deal can.

Colorado has sent a significant portion of their core packing in the last few days.  In return they don’t have any players who are as clearly core players.  Erik Johnson may become one, but he is yet to live up to the expectation of his high draft position.  Colorado overpaid for his draft pedigree given his NHL performance to date.  When given a chance to mould the Colorado Avalanche, Greg Sherman tore them down.  He has sent some key (and young) players of his core away without getting the same in return.  The future of the Colorado Avalanche is not as bright today as it was before Sherman started trading.

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You can’t evaluate this trade now, for either team.  It’s a futures deal.  And it’s very possible that the Avs walk away from this one like bandits.  If all players involved max out their potentials, it’s very balanced - a young Pronger for a young Tocchet and young Boyle, or whatever comparisons you prefer.  But if that happens, and that 1st/2nd swap pays off big (which it might - St. Louis is no lock to finish outside the Top 10 in 2012), then the Avs have a franchise-changing steal trade.

I mean, I probably prefer the St. Louis return.  But any judging right now of the deal or the GM is completely premature.  Sherman deserves to be questioned and analyzed, sure.  But not labeled.

Posted by jonquixote on 02/19/11 at 10:33 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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