The St. Louis Blues should let Jaden Schwartz walk. There, I said it and you can all freak out and light your torches.
I know that Schwartz is seen as one of those heartbeat of the team guys, but the reality is that the Blues can make up for his absence. Call me crazy if you want, but when there are so many that are more than willing to let Vladimir Tarasenko walk, crazy is a point of view.
Let it be known that I am not alone. Stephen Ground of The Hockey Writers wrote a very good piece on why the Blues should move on from Schwartz.
I encourage people to read it to get a more in depth take. However, the nuts and bolts of it comes down to what Schwartz is willing to accept for a contract.
At this juncture, he is not really worth a raise. His production does not warrant it and a heartbeat of the team kind of guy doesn’t just get $6 million or more.
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People take flowery positions on the matter now, but the Blues ran into that with Alex Steen prior to winning the Stanley Cup. Plenty of fans were clamoring about him being overpaid at $5 million. He ended up being an extremely valuable asset during that run, just as Schwartz did, but you cannot continually reward people for past efforts beyond a certain point.
Make no mistake, I would rather the Blues keep Schwartz. However, if he is looking for a big pay day, which is his right, then it doesn’t make sense.
However, the problem the Blues run into is not whether they should move on, but whether they can. While Ground lists several names in free agency the Blues could look at, there is an issue of whether they will actually be available or whether they would be an improvement.
I’ll jump right out and say I’d love to have Palmieri. I thought the Blues should have traded for him at the deadline because he can score goals and plays a style that would fit in perfectly with Craig Berube‘s style.
Palmieri is slightly more consistent in the goal department, slightly less for points, but makes less on his his contract, which means his raise would be less than what Schwartz might want.
The problem is Palmieri is two years older. He is still in the prime of his career, but nobody knows when age will catch up to someone. Additionally, he’s having a great playoff season, so that makes it more likely the New York Islanders will want to keep him.
Hyman is an interesting possibility, but even though he’s the same age as Schwartz, he’s more of an unknown. The goal scoring ability is definitely there, but with two of his six seasons coming in a pandemic, it’s hard to know what he can produce regularly.
The price for Hyman would be very palatable as his current deal is only $2.25 million. But, he’s currently got a modified no trade clause, meaning he can submit 10 teams he will not accept. The Blues have done lesser clauses like that before, but no trade deals can be sticking point.
For Saad, the goal numbers are still there. The point totals are taking a slight dip, but some of that can be attributed to the pandemic environment.
However, Saad currently makes $6 million. Are you going to almost guarantee yourself to pay more money for similar production from a guy that will have to adjust to the Blues system? Unlikely.
No thank you on Foligno. His goal production is far too eratic, his current salary is around the same as Schwartz and he’s 33. Unless there was a good reduction in pay, it just doesn’t make sense to make that swap.
Granlund is another one I’d lean away from. The Blues need goals and, even during his best seasons, Granlund is more of a facilitator than a scorer. While he’s been a solid player, I would also consider him slightly overpaid at $5.75 million for his production, but the pandemic also makes it hard to judge his numbers since his goals have been somewhat high for playing partial seasons.
There are, of course, other free agents out there. Many, like Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Ovechkin will never even hit the market or be priced too high for the Blues to afford. The other names out there are all above 30, to the point you question how much they have left to offer.
So, it’s not so much whether the Blues must keep Schwartz as opposed to can they actually let him go. The Blues are at a point where, if they consider themselves championship material, they cannot really afford to simply replace production.
If you let Schwartz or Tarasenko, or anyone go, the Blues cannot simply replace that offense and call it a day. The Blues need to still have whatever offense those guys provide and have more.
People can contend they need a bigger defender, but when you average 1.75 goals in the playoffs, you need more scoring, not just another scorer to replace the one you let go.
There is no question that the Blues play a different way with Schwartz in the lineup than without, but they need consistency. He’s had injuries and never lived up to his potential as far as goals scored. You can only keep a guy so long for his work ethic without there being anything else.
Put me on board for letting him go, but he might still be the best option for the Blues out there.