The St. Louis Blues current contract situation and their overall depth give them plenty of options in the future. That includes potentially letting some players walk.
While every free agency period is going to have some big questions for the St. Louis Blues, they have a lot of certainty regarding their roster for the next few years. Guys like Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Justin Faulk and Marco Scandella are all signed to solid, mostly team-friendly deals.
The only forward that is in the middle of their prime and not signed past 2021 is Jaden Schwartz. However, there should be no rush on the part of the Blues to offer an extension and they might actually be better off to let him walk.
The reason this comes up now is because NHL Rumors reported on a Jeremy Rutherford mailbag where he discussed the situation. According to Rutherford, Schwartz would be in line to get a contract worth more than Schenn and be worth it.
We will agree to disagree on part of that.
I have no doubt that Schwartz will look for a hefty raise for what could be the final contract of his career, or at least the last major one. Whether he’d be worth it is up for debate.
The money is not all that significant other than cap space. Schwartz is already making $5.35 million, so if you gave him $6.65, that’s not a gigantic jump from one to the other.
If you separate yourself from the emotions of the matter, is he really worth that?
I can already sense the keyboard rage. So many fans, myself included, have their judgement clouded by personal feelings toward a player and Schwartz is a fan favorite. By even hinting the team could let him go, you just know there would be so many Ermahgerd! reactions.
Think about it critically though. Schwartz is a fine player, but his numbers are not irreplaceable.
He has come close, but never surpassed 30 goals in his career. He’s been able to regularly score 50 points when healthy, but he’s mainly just a consitently good player, not great.
His goal totals are right around the same as Schenn and Schwartz is only slightly better at consistency for points, but Schenn has the higher ceiling having scored 70 points in a season. Schenn is also better in the clutch, scoring more game winning goals than Schwartz.
If that is the case, why should Schwartz make more money than Schenn other than length of service with the Blues? One of the biggest gripes against Doug Armstrong was giving contracts based on service for the team as opposed to actual production, so why do it again?
On top of that, the Blues have players coming through the system that will eventually crack the roster and demand top-six minutes. Klim Kostin is chomping at the bit and Jordan Kyrou is still a mostly untapped resource of talent.
They may not reach those heights, but we have not seen anything from either to say they could not be a high-20 goal scorer or even in the 30’s. They would be cheaper on the checkbook for Tom Stillman too.
None of this is to say the Blues should get rid of Schwartz. He is a valuable member of the team.
You don’t often find a guy that has the talent to play on the top three but is willing to get physical and put his body on the line the way Schwartz does. He is one of those guys that brings plenty of intangibles to the Blues that don’t always show up on the stats. Just seeing a difference in how the team plays when he’s on the ice vs. when he is not is proof of that.
However, when money becomes a main issue as it always does if a raise is due, you have to become a little more cold blooded. It would be great for Schwartz to stay here until he’s done, but I’m just not sure he’s worth more money than Schenn and the Blues have players ready to step up to the plate if that spot opened up.
So far, Doug Armstrong has made the right moves with the team with only a hiccup here or there. If he re-signs Schwartz, I will be completely on board.
However, I do not believe it is completely necessary. Schwartz, as a person, is a fantastic fit with this team and in this city. As a player, he can be replaced.