In November of 2008, Toronto Maple Leafs Interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher targeted the Blues as a target for a possible trade. He wanted Lee Stempniak, a then-25 year old winger who had a 27-goal season just two seasons before. He traded oft-injured defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and streaky-forward Alex Steen to the Blues for Stempniak.
“I have yet to know a player trade in any sport that there isn't an element of risk in it," Fletcher said to the media after the deal was approved by the NHL. "There is in every trade because the party on the other side is making the trade because they think they're making a good deal. And we think we're making a good deal.
"Hopefully we're both right."
How did it work out for Fletcher and the Leafs?
Fletcher’s interim tag was taken away; along with his general manager duties. He currently serves as the Senior Advisor to General Manager Brian Burke and the rest of the Leafs organization.
Stempniak continued his slumping ways in Toronto, scoring just 25 goals in 123 games. Since the Leafs remained in the NHL cellar, they traded Stempniak to the Phoenix Coyotes for a few draft picks and a prospect defenseman in last year’s trade deadline.
How about Steen and Colaiacovo?
Well, Colaiacovo has continued to be healthy most of the time, as well as one of the best puck-moving defensemen on the Blues’ roster. His +8 was second-best on the Blues’ roster in the plus/minus category.
But Steen is a different story. Brought in mostly to fill the Blues’ depth chart and play on the third and fourth lines, Steen has stepped up to be one of the most feared offensive players in the Blues’ lineup. He has seen significant power-play minutes and is counted on to unload bombs from the blue-line. After his career-best 24 goals last season, Blues GM Doug Armstrong saw it fit to give Steen a four-year contract extension.
“Alex had a career year last season and was a key part on our power play unit,” Armstrong said. “We’re happy to have him in the fold for the next four seasons.”
Steen has been vital to Blues victories to open the 2010-11 season. He leads the team with four game-winning goals, accounting for 36% of his goal-output. His 11 goals lead the Blues by a large margin among healthy and active players.
His five-game point streak is something that fantasy hockey general managers will want to take notice of. Scoring a point in seven of his last eight games ain’t too shabby either.
Steen has definitely found a way to fit in while in St. Louis, as opposed to his atrocious point-totals in Toronto. In Steen’s last 20 games in the Canadian city, he contributed just two goals and two assists with a -4 rating. He sure has turned it around in St. Louis. Steen has totaled 93 total points in 162 games played as a member of the Blues, along with a +3 plus/minus rating. He is constantly on the rink as a penalty-killer, power-play quarterback and the go-to-guy in even strength play. He has become one of the most dynamic Blues players since the lockout.
Don’t look at the numbers. Don’t take my word for it. Watch him play. He carries himself better than almost anyone on the roster and it’s obvious even on television broadcasts.
"We think we're getting somebody that suits our needs better,” Fletcher said in 2008 to Toronto media. “Plain and simple."
The Maple Leafs are currently 28th in the league in goals-scored. Would a third-line winger with a scoring touch not help their offensive woes?
Alex Steen could do that. What a shame for the Maple Leafs.