A deep Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line became less cluttered Monday, with the trading of oft-injured Carlo Colaiacovo to St. Louis along with centre Alex Steen.
In return, the Leafs obtained right-winger Lee Stempniak, who has three goals and 13 points in 14 games for the Blues this season. He missed four games in October with a left knee injury.
"Lee has done a tremendous job in St. Louis," Blues president John Davidson said in a statement. "He is a classy individual."
Colaiacovo, who has been criticized this season for his lack of conditioning by new Leafs head coach Ron Wilson, had his development as an NHLer slowed the past three-plus seasons because of injuries, the latest to his foot.
He has one assist in 10 games this season, while Steen has two goals and four points in 20 contests.
"We feel we have improved our club today for both the short and long term by adding Carlo and Alex," Davidson said. "Carlo is a solid two-way defenceman, and will provide depth to our blue-line and Alex can play centre or wing and can score at the NHL level."
Monday's move came as the Leafs are reportedly in the process of negotiating with former Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke.
Under GM Cliff Fletcher, the Leafs have changed considerably. He was hired to replace John Ferguson Jr. on an interim basis in January and has since been responsible for cutting ties with 11 regulars. On top of that, former captain Mats Sundin remains unsigned.
The 25-year-old Stempniak, in his third full NHL season, averaged 19 minutes 28 seconds of ice time in 2008-09 and was tied for third on the Blues with 43 shots.
Coming off a 13-goal, 38-point campaign, Stempniak had his best season in 2006-07 when he scored 27 times — including eight power-play goals and four game winners — while adding 25 assists in 82 games.
Colaiacovo, 25, struggled to find his game this season, during which he was shuffled in and out of a Toronto lineup that at times boasted nine NHL-calibre defencemen.
The Toronto native had six points in 28 games last season following a 17-point campaign in 2006-07, but never lived up to the potential many saw in the six-foot-one, 200-pounder when he was drafted in the first round (17th overall) at the 2001 NHL entry draft.
Steen, 24, showed promise in his three-plus seasons with the Maple Leafs, scoring 18 goals in 2005-06 ahead of 15-goal performances the past two years.
He will take the place of Blues centre Andy McDonald, who broke his left leg on Nov. 16.