The St. Louis Blues have always known they had a special player in Jaden Schwartz. 2017-18 really showed how far he has come in making this his team.
Jaden Schwartz has been a member of the St. Louis Blues for six full seasons and seven years overall. They’ve known for quite some time that he was going to be a special player.
However, it was not until 2017-18 that we realized how good Schwartz can be. Despite his injuries, Schwartz started to wrestle the best player on the team title away from Vladimir Tarasenko.
Personally, I would say that Tarasenko is still the better pure scorer. However, it is hard to argue against Schwartz as the best overall player on the team.
Final Grade: A
The biggest reason Schwartz doesn’t get an A+ for me is his continual struggle to stay healthy. Much of Schwartz’ problem there has not been his fault.
It is not as though he is coming out of shape and pulling some random muscle. He’s usually being knocked into the boards awkwardly or blocking pucks and breaking something. Nevertheless, it is just frustrating the luck he has had. It makes you wonder how good he could be if he could stick around and play an entire season.
If you look at his career stats, Schwartz has never played a full 82 games. In fact, he has only played 80 games once in his career.
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Regardless, Schwartz took a giant step forward this past year. We had seen flashes of brilliance in prior seasons, but Schwartz came right out of the gate looking to win the derby.
Schwartz scored two goals and five points in his first four games of the season. He also had points in 16 of his first 24 games. Schwartz, amazingly, did not go more than two games without a point until November 29.
By the time Schwartz got injured by blocking a shot in the Detroit game on December 9, he was the team’s leader in goals and points.
Schwartz continued leading the team in points for quite awhile during his injury spell. Whether that shows something about how good he had been or how far the team’s offense fell in his absence is up to you.
The bottom line is that the team was a contender when Schwartz was in the lineup. When he was not, the cracks in the foundation started letting water in and the team floundered.
It is quite dangerous to rely so heavily on one player. We have found that out with Tarasenko in the past. The Blues seem to have made a habit of looking to one or two players for all their scoring. This is not basketball though. Schwartz or Tarasenko or insert any name cannot be Michael Jordan or Lebron James. You have to help them out.
That’s part of what makes Schwartz so good. He has an eye for the goal, but has the hands that can set other guys up. He seems to have a solid knowledge of when to shoot and when to pass. So many of the Blues could learn from that as they tend to do the complete opposite.
Overall, it was a fantastic season for Schwartz. Despite missing 20 games, he set career bests for shot percentage and minutes played per game.
Schwartz was on pace to score 30 goals for the first time in his career as well. At the pace he had set, he was almost sure to eclipse that number. Despite missing almost a quarter of the season, he only fell short of his career high in points by four.
Schwartz was one of the team’s best power play scorers as well. It does show how poor the special teams was, but his six power play goals in 62 games was tied for second on the team. Only Brayden Schenn’s eight were more.
Speaking of Schenn, beyond just the pure points, Schwartz and Schenn formed a relationship the likes of which we have not seen in decades. They both complimented each other almost perfectly.
Schwartz’ possession metrics went up by around three percentage points. He increased his point share numbers as well.
Right now, the Blues are so much better with Schwartz than without and he still has room to get better. All the team and the player needs now is a bit of luck to keep him healthy. If that happens, the Central Division should watch out.