The 2019-20 season for the St. Louis Blues has been highlighted by players stepping up in the absence of Vladimir Tarasenko. One of the big players to step up has been Jaden Schwartz, he has done it in a big way.
In 2018-19, Schwartz posted just 11 goals in 69 games, while this season he already has 16 goals in 49 games. He had 25 assists last season – he has 24 this season. He’s bouncing back, and the Blues really needed it. The duo of Schwartz and Brayden Schenn has just been excellent despite losing their star winger.
Rebounding from Last Season
In the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, Schwartz also outdid his regular-season goal total of 11, as he had 12 goals in 26 playoff games. Ever since the end of last season, he’s been playing at a high level.
We should have seen this bounce-back coming – most did, but for those who didn’t, you should have. With the numbers he put up in the playoffs just seven months ago, we should have known he could take it another level without Tarasenko on the other wing.
Counting last year’s playoff run, that’s now 28 goals and 32 assists for 60 points in this year’s 49 games and the 26 in the playoffs. Not too bad for someone who Blues’ fans thought may not be the same after his regular season of 2018-19.
The Duo of Schenn and Schwartz
With the way that Schenn and Schwartz play together, they have made the Tarasenko absence much easier on the team (from ‘Blues’ Schenn, Schwartz pick up their pace in Tarasenko’s absence,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12/25/2019). They are both from Saskatchewan, as is Tyler Bozak, so they do go way back.
Blues’ head coach Craig Berube has done the right thing by keeping these two together and it really hasn’t mattered who is on their other wing. Whether it’s Jordan Kyrou, Oskar Sundqvist, or anyone else, they have played at a high level.
Brayden Schenn already has 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points in 49 games this season, and a big part of it is his chemistry with Schwartz. Both of these guys are probably on their way to near career years, playing together for the entire season has done all good for them.
Schwartz’s Two-Way Game
Schwartz has consistently been a sound defensive player this season, other than Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak, he has been one of the better defensive forwards for the Blues this season. He likely won’t get recognition for the Selke trophy, but he deserves some.
Schwartz’s “Corsi For” percentage coming in at 53.61 percent is second-best among Blues’ forwards who have played more than 40 games. His defensive play has taken a large step forward.
When you watch Schwartz, you can clearly see how well he backchecks, with a motor off the charts. So it cannot be that surprising that his play on both ends has been stellar this season.
He seems to have picked up his two-way game since Berube came in, and in doing that, fits into the system perfectly. The system that the Blues play has to be a contributor in Schwartz figuring his game out once again.
Expectations from Here
When you look at what to expect from Schwartz for the rest of this season and beyond, you would expect him to stay consistent. If he can put up a solid amount of points and stay true to his style, he will continue to be a large asset for the Blues.
I would expect Berube to keep Schenn and Schwartz together, and it really doesn’t matter who their winger is, as I noted. And when Tarasenko returns, Schwartz could take his production to another level, racking up assists if Tarasenko is scoring goals as we expect.
The better Schwartz plays, the better the Blues play. He carries a $5.35-million cap hit until after next season, pretty good value for what he brings to the table.
Whatever happens in free agency in 2021, Jaden Schwartz has been an excellent Blue. He’s been playing his best hockey for the last calendar year, it has been a very pleasant thing to watch for Blues fans who had high hopes for the winger since he was drafted 14th-overall in 2010.