Kraken’s Schwartz Playing Well Since Return From Injury

After missing 25 games with injury, Jaden Schwartz is back in the Seattle Kraken lineup and making a difference. Although they have not won any of the four games since his return, they have seen an uptick in goals per game as well as shots per game. Here is a breakdown of his first four games back.

Schwartz Driving the Offence

Since returning from injury, Schwartz has done a great job of getting shots on goal. He has 17 in the four games, which is five more than the next highest on the team. 15 of those shots have come at even strength which once again is higher than anyone else on the team. He also has a 53.45 percent Corsi 5-on-5, and the Kraken have outshot the opposition when he’s been on the ice. From an individual standpoint, he is making a positive difference since his return.

Jaden Schwartz, Seattle Kraken
Jaden Schwartz, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As a team, the Kraken have seen some improvements over the past four games compared to the 25 he missed. The team’s goals per game have increased from 2.28 to 2.75, while they have also seen an increase in shots on goal per game from 28.5 to 31. His return has allowed coach Dave Hakstol to balance his lineup better and alleviate some of the pressure placed on bottom-six guys like Ryan Donato and Joonas Donksoi who were relied upon a little more when Schwartz was missing from the lineup.

Kraken’s Defensive Problems Still Prevalent

While Schwartz has kick-started the offence since returning to the lineup, the Kraken’s defence has not improved. They have seen a slight increase in shots against per game from 29.2 to 29.3, but the big difference is goals against, which has skyrocketed from 3.52 to 4.50. While the goaltending has been the main culprit of the increase, the fact the team did not see any improvement when he returned to the team from a defensive perspective should be cause for alarm.

Individually, Schwartz has been doing his part to try and limit the opposition’s offence. He has blocked two shots and has been credited with five takeaways over the four games. Despite his decent defensive statistics and history of playing the penalty kill in a limited role throughout his career, the Kraken refuse to play him when shorthanded. Since his return, he has played one second of penalty kill time while the Kraken as a team is operating at a 42.9 percent efficacy rate. Something needs to change when Seattle is shorthanded, and putting the former Stanley Cup winner on the penalty kill may be exactly what they need to get it back on track.

Consequences of Schwartz Returning

With Schwartz returning to the lineup, the Kraken needed to make a roster move. Seattle placed forward Austin Czarnik on waivers which led to the New York Islanders claiming him. While the waiver claim was not the former St. Louis Blue’s fault, it does beg the question of why the Kraken could not have held him out for an extra two weeks until after the trade deadline?

Related: Kraken: 3 Roster Management Mistakes Made in 2021-22

There were quite a few players that could have been moved, leaving room for the Kraken to reactivate Schwartz without being forced to place another player on waivers. While his return has been noticeable, the Kraken are not making the playoffs and could have let him rest for a few more days before bringing him back. This is another example of poor player management this season, as the Kraken lost another player for nothing when they could have flipped Czarnik for assets at the deadline.

Can Schwartz Play With Beniers?

With the season lost, the question that needs to be answered is, can Schwartz play with Matty Beniers once the second overall pick from this past draft finishes his college season and signs with the Kraken? If the two can develop some chemistry in the last ten or so games of the season, the hope is they will be able to lead this team once the 2022-23 season starts. Until the Michigan forward signs, expect Schwartz to continue his strong play as he looks to salvage what is left of his injury-riddled season.

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