It is no surprise that the Leafs have trade a defenseman since they had an abundance of them. What might be a surprise is they did so when they are suffer from several injuries on defense (Van Ryn, Frogren and Colaiacovo himself) and possibly just days before Brian Burke takes over as GM.
If you subscribe to the theory that the team who gets the best player wins the trade, you have to give the edge to the Leafs. But I am not convinced that the Blues didn’t do very well in this trade. Yes Colaiacovo had his health issues and it seemed apparent than new coach Ron Wilson wasn’t enamored with his conditioning but Colaiacovo is still highly talented and can play a physical brand of hockey. If the Blues can get him on the right track they could have a very good top 4 defenseman on their hands.
Also, Alex Steen is a very useful player. His offense hasn’t developed as many would have liked, and this year was definitely a step back when he had the opportunity to do so much more, but even if he only gets you 30-40 points he can still be a solid defensive player and penalty killer.
In Stempniak the Leafs get another skilled forward and although scoring hasn’t been a problem so far this year they do have a lack of (perceived or otherwise) young skilled top 6 level forwards. Stempniak is should fit that role and he has the speed and skill that Fletcher has been adding to this team ever since he took over from John Ferguson Jr.
Interestingly enough, likely incoming GM Brian Burke is more known for wanting to play a big physical game so who knows what he is going to think of guys like Grabovsky, Stempniak, etc.