Wrapping up the Stempniak Trade

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    In case you missed it:

    The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t waiting for Brian Burke to come in and start making moves, as the club traded defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak on Monday.”

    http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=257162&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_main

    Gotta say that my initial standpoint on all this is that I like the trade. Always nice to get the best player in the deal, and that’s exactly the case here.

    Stempniak is a very talented and speedy winger with excellent offensive upside. He put great numbers in the NCAA, scoring well over a point-a-game during his last 3 seasons.

    During his 2nd NHL season, he put up a standout 27 goal campaign before slumping to 38 points the following season on the worst offensive team in the league.

    This season, he seems to have regained some of that scoring touch, boasting 13 points in 14 games played thus far. However, he still remains a streaky player who started off the season cold before lighting it up with 11 points in his last 7 games.

    This trade is a great move for the Leafs and real win-win for both teams. Carlo and Steen will be missed, but the acquisition of Stemps gives them another legit, (somewhat) proven young offensive weapon to build around. I haven’t had the opporunity to watch Stemps more than 10 or 15 times so I went and sought opinions from Blues fans, and from what I gather, he is a good guy who gives it 100% every night. He’s an improving defensive player who’s not afraid to take the body at times, and due to his inconsistency, can have confidence issues sometimes.

    The one point that we should all appreciate about this trade is that it took some serious guts from Fletcher. 20 games into the season is not a time when you will see a trade of this significance hapen very often, especially involving prominent young players. Like Grabovski this past summer and Carter last trade deadline, Cliff had identified what he felt to be another underrated young player on the verge of breaking out. Cliff managed to snag Grabs, and were it not for Kaberle’s NTC, we would have Carter in the fold as well. Once he realized that Stemps was starting to put it together early this season, it became obvious that the window was closing. So, he stepped it up and got it done. Kudos to him.

    Cliff Fletcher was on the Bill Watters Show today and here are some quotes from his interview:

    - First saw Stempniak play for Peoria of the AHL and was very impressed

    - After seeing him play earlier this season, it was a unanimous decision among management (Wilson, Fletcher, Nieuwendyk) that they would try to target him via trade at some point

    - Assuming all players pass their physicals, Stemps will be in the lineup tomorrow night

    - He will play on the top 2 lines and get plenty of opportunities

    In addition, Bob Mckenzie had something very interesting to say in his blog today:

    And it’s obvious that Leafs‘ current GM Cliff Fletcher isn’t just waiting to hand over the keys to the executive suite to Burke – witness today’s three-player deal with the St. Louis Blues. Sources say Fletcher continues to work the phones on transactions that may be even more significant than today’s and is conducting Leaf business as if he’s not going anywhere.

    http://www.tsn.ca/blogs/bob_mckenzie/?id=257166&lid=sublink02&lpos=topRelated_main

    So where does Stemps fit in?

    My initial thought is that while the K-G-H line has been fantastic, Kulemin is the obvious weak link there and perhaps might not be ready to handle such a prominent role this early into his North American career. Stemps has the hands, the speed, and the vision to step in and mesh right away with Mikhail and Niklas.

    In fact, just how cool would a “Stemps Grabs Hags” line sound? Haha.

    Looking forward to his much anticipated debut tomorrow night!

    Always a pleasure,

    Alex Tran

    [email protected]