I know Steen’s hot start this year is unsustainable and likely going to end very soon – his GPG is currently .93 on the season! But I can’t help regretting that the Leafs let him go and, moreover, that I supported the move at the time.
I supported the move at the time because I was a frustrated Leafs fan, sick of where the team was at and desperately hoping the new GM would rebuild. (Oops.) And for some reason I thought the idea of trading the Leafs’ top forward prospect and an oft-injured young D for a guy who had one okay year a couple of years earlier made sense.
That was stupid of me (and Fletcher). Even without knowing that Stempniak was a disaster for the Leafs, the trade was terrible. I thought Steen should be moved because he had never lived up to my inflated offensive expectations – though he is at the moment, he’s on pace to score 77 goals!!! – after his rookie year. But he obviously normally isn’t that kind of player and despite the fact that he was my favourite Maple Leaf at the time, I really thought he needed a fresh start, or something like that, to fully excel. Maybe that was true or maybe it was just me being silly about offensive expectations.
Since that time, though he has never been nominated, he has been discussed as a possible Selke candidate – specifically in the 2010 season – and his offensive production has returned to his rookie year numbers.
His goal scoring will fall off a cliff sometime this season – unless he’s Cheechoo or something – and I would expect him not to score more than 25 goals in a season again in his career, but it still bugs me that the Leafs gave him up and another player – and I thought it was a reasonable idea! – for a guy who had marginal player written all over him. (To be fair to Fletcher and my past self, Stempniak began that season scoring 13 points in 14 games. On the other hand, it was Lee Stempniak.)