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Analysis: Leafs continue rebuild with Blues swap

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A surprising turn of events today saw former Norris Division rivals Toronto and St. Louis swap young players, with the Leafs sending defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and center Alex Steen to the Blues in exchange for right winger Lee Stempniak.

In Colaiacovo, a cynic would say the Blues got something they already have too many of – an injury-prone defenseman. But to be fair, when Colaiacovo is healthy (he’s missed the past few games with a foot injury after blocking a shot) he is an effective puck-moving blueliner with skating skills.

Colaiacovo has been in coach Ron Wilson’s doghouse since the beginning of the season and rode pine more than anyone. At just 25 years of age, you would hope he still has his best hockey ahead of him, but with a history of maladies and having never played more than 48 NHL games in a season, the jury is still out.

Parting with Steen was likely a difficult decision for Leafs brass. A first round draft pick in 2002, the Winnipeg-raised Swede and son of Jets legend Thomas Steen was once seen as a future captain of the Leafs, but his game has yet to take off. He has been used in a checking role this year and has just four points through 20 games.

With Stempniak, Toronto gets a youngster with a good sniping upside. The Buffalo native potted a career-high 27 goals as a sophomore in 2006-07 before falling back to 13 goals last season.

Despite being basically a point-per-game player this year (13 in 14 games), Stempniak wasn’t playing among the top-six forwards, as the Blues already have Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, David Perron and Brad Boyes on the wings.

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