Last season 2010 First Round Draft Pick Jaden Schwartz made his NHL Debut. Scoring in his first NHL game may have been a sign of what fans can expect from Schwartz, but will he have the chance to prove that he is NHL ready in the 2013 season.
Louie Korac wrote an article with Schwartz that featured quotes from the Blues hopeful and his Coach, Ken Hitchcock.
“I knew guys in the league were big and strong, but until you actually go up against them, you don’t realize how much. Obviously I needed to get a little stronger in the off-season. I feel like I did a good job of that. It’s a big jump from college.”
While Jaden Schwartz may not have the size, it wouldn’t be a big issue on the St. Louis Blues lineup. The team is filled with big players and big bodies willing to get into the dirty areas letting Schwartz play a bit more or a skilled game. His smaller stature could serve the Blues a very specific purpose. The problem is with the depth that the St. Louis Blues have on their roster, Schwartz will have to play a very competitive game to keep his spot on the roster. There are lots of players with skill and size that are also trying to make the opening night lineup.
Korac’s article went on to include, “The way he practiced today, right at the top of the heap,” Hitchcock said Monday when asked where Schwartz fits in. “I don’t know. He’s 192 pounds, he’s not a light player. He’s a heavy, hard, strong player. For his size, he’s heavy on the puck. He does all the things … he’s a coach’s player. He does things that you like as a coach. So right now, I thought that line was excellent today. He’s right there. He’s got speed, he’s got quickness, he gets into the hard areas. He’s really good on the forecheck. It’ll be interesting when things get dialed up for real, but I think right now, he’s showing more and more every day he’s here.”
When a guy like Hitchcock says that a player is a coach’s player, you had better believe that he plans to lean on Schwartz. I would guess that Hitch would be willing to put Schwarz into the lineup to see how well he can keep up with the rest of the team, but also see how far he can push him. Last season, in the seven NHL games that Jaden Schwartz saw, he managed 2 goals and 1 assist, but would need to produce more than that this season to stay in the lineup.
“It was a great experience for me,” Schwartz said. “I was really glad I got to do that. It helped me a lot, I learned a lot from the older guys. The fact I got to play in seven games helped, but even watching the games and just being around the guys helped, too. It was a great experience and it’s been beneficial for me this year. How big of an advantage it is or not, it’s definitely an advantage for me. I’m excited. I feel like I’m in game shape and I’m ready to go.”
So what did Coach Hitchcock say in Korac’s article about Jaden Schwartz making the team? “I don’t know that yet. I’m not sure,” Hitchcock said. “It’s different when you’re playing in league play and everything. Right now, he looks like a real good player. But when you’re playing against other sweaters … I think we’ll get a better read here in the next couple of scrimmages.”
While the fate of Schwartz is unknown at the moment, we did report the other day that he is currently playing on one of the three powerplay lines that Hitchcock has developed in training camp, so as of now it looks promising for Schwartz to make the lineup.
Either way, Jaden Schwartz has shown a ton of promise early in his career, now he just needs to prove that he can continue his success at the NHL level. Stay tuned for more about your St. Louis Blues and, as always, LET’S GO BLUES!