The Seattle Kraken bolstered their offence in free agency by signing Jaden Schwartz to a five-year deal worth $27.5 million. Last season, he scored eight goals and added 13 assists in 40 games. Despite having a down season, he is a valuable winger who can play on special teams and brings a Stanley Cup pedigree to the Emerald City.
Schwartz Can Do it All
Seattle is getting a versatile player who can contribute not just to the power play but also to the penalty kill. Last season, he logged 28:11 minutes shorthanded. He was only on the ice for one goal allowed and even created two scoring chances. Throughout his career, he has averaged 48 seconds per game on the penalty kill, which means he will not be an everyday penalty killer but can fill in if needed. Luckily, the Kraken has some talented penalty killers on their team, so he may not be relied upon as much as he has been in the past.
The power play is where he is really going to thrive. Back in 2019-20, he had 20 power-play points, including nine goals. Since his arrival to the NHL back in 2011-12, the Blues have the sixth-best power-play rating overall, and Schwartz has been a big part of that. His 80 power-play points rank him sixth among St. Louis Blues players since joining the league, and his 199 shots rank him fifth. He can create chances and should fit in nicely playing on the Kraken’s first power-play unit.
When it comes to the playoff, Schwartz delivers. During their Cup run in 2018-19, he led the team in goals with 12 and was second in points with 20. However, his best performance came in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final as he had two assists and helped the Blues capture their first-ever Cup.
Having playoff experience is important, but Schwartz has shown he can continually deliver in the postseason. He has 54 points in 88 career games, which average out to 0.61 points per game. He doesn’t shy away from the moment and should deliver big moments if Seattle makes the playoffs this season. Other big playoff moments from 2019-20 include scoring hat tricks against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 6 of the first round and the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Conference Final. He is built for playoff hockey and has shown consistency throughout his career.
A Great Two-Way Forward
A big part of Schwartz’s game is his defensive play. He knows how to break up chances and skates hard to get back into his own zone. Throughout his career, he has a plus/minus rating of plus-74 and has only been a minus player twice in his career. His Corsi percentage has also been impressive as his career percentage is 53.8 percent at even strength. Although his defensive statistics this season showed a decline, his career percentages show this may have to do with injuries and playing in an adverse situation this year.
An underrated part of Schwartz’s game is his ability to take the puck away from opponents while protecting it and preventing giveaways. Last season, he had 18 takeaways compared to 15 giveaways. There have only been two times he has ever had more giveaways than takeaways. The first was back in 2015-16 when he only played 33 games, where the totals that year were 18 giveaways and 16 takeaways. Then there was his rookie year, wherein seven games, he had two giveaways and one takeaway. He should be able to shut down the other team’s top lines for Seattle while still contributing offensively.
The last part of his defensive game that has been very impressive is his willingness to sacrifice the body and play physically. He has averaged 27.6 blocks per season over his 10-year career, along with 45.3 hits per season. He isn’t the biggest player at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, but he never gives up on a play and will do whatever it takes to win. Schwartz is a great role model and one that younger players can look up to in the locker room.
A Great Signing
There is some risk to the signing, but Schwartz is a great addition to the Kraken organization. He knows how to win and has a history of delivering in big moments. There is also an opportunity for him in Seattle as he could be the Kraken’s No. 1 left-winger once the season starts. The fans will love him on and off the ice, and he is sure to become a leader for this young Seattle team.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.