How Amazingly Good Was This Steve Staios Trade?

With all due respect to Steve Staios, who bled Oiler colors for years, was a great player, team leader and heart on his sleeve type assitant captain; the trade that sent Staios to the Flames "could" turn out to be something extraordinary. I put could in quotes because this analysis is based on three games and Tambellini could still screw it all up.

I'll be the first to admit, I knew little about Aaron Johnson when his name was mentioned as included in the Steve Staios trade. I thought Johnson was the throw in and the 3rd round pick the pivot point of the deal. Boy was I wrong.

Granted, Johnson has played only three games with the Oilers. But something about this kid (and he is still a kid at 26 years old compared to Staios who is 37) tells me Johnson was waiting for a situation in which he could shine.

In a +/- +3 in three total games with the Oilers since the trade, Johnson has seen more ice time now than he ever has in the NHL. Case in point on Thursday, Johnson played over 26 minutes against the Canadiens when Whitney went down after a blocked shot.

Instead of gassing under the extra time, he's flourishing, playing tough minutes in tough situations. He's basically Edmonton's number two defenceman in the abscence of Whitney and at times he almost looks like he belongs there.

Coming into the Oilers room, Johnson had to show the coaching staff and management that he deserves to be looked at as more than just that extra throw in during a trade that primarily was meant to move salary and obtain picks. No one figured he'd be a name the Oilers dressed after this season.

Unless management knew something about four other teams who've had Johnson before didn't, he's making it hard not to put him on your roster come 2010/2011.

I don't suggest Johnson is a guy you look to as your number two d-man going forward. In fact, three and four might be a stretch. But at 6'1" and 208lbs, he's big. At 26, he's young. And for 26 minutes, where players like Pronger and Bouwmeester spend much of it floating, but smartly relaxing to pace themselves, Johnson is full throttle from the minute he steps on the ice, which can only mean he's also in tremendous shape.

When the Oilers moved Staios and his $2.7 million salary, I thought they had done well getting a draft pick in return because they cleared space to make decisions for next season. I knew Staios had a quality about him that a few teams might take interest in. I was even more impressed that they picked up a player too.

What I didn't see coming, was that the decision the Oilers might have to make would be sitting right in front of them in Aaron Johnson.

Having watched Johnson over the last three games, I'm almost willing to let slide a good chunk of Tambellini's mistakes during his short stint as Oilers GM. Big Steve still has a lot to do to improve this team in all areas, but this is a good start in an area that was sorely lacking for the Oilers.

Whether they keep him and at a good price should he continue to play well is another story. But when I posted earlier that the Oilers were still doing alright with Smid, Souray, Gilbert, Chorney, and Whitney as their starting point from the blueline this summer, perhaps I should have included Johnson's name.


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