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Decision Making Time: Jaden Schwartz

May 25, 2021, 3:28 PM ET [9 Comments]
John Gove
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
In what should be a busy offseason, plenty of tough decisions lie ahead for the St. Louis Blues. The needed shuffling of the current roster will come through varying actions, such as trades and free-agent acquisitions. However, before any of that occurs, the team needs to address what will happen with its own players set to hit the market, especially those with “unrestricted” status.

Of those soon-to-be unrestricted free agents on the Blues, three names stand out the most. Of course, those three individuals are Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, and Mike Hoffman. All three possess value to this roster. At the same time, all three also come with reasons why St. Louis is better off allowing them to walk.

Each of these veteran forwards deserves their own individual attention. Today, let us start with St. Louis’s 14th-overall selection in 2010, Jaden Schwartz.

Beginning his Blues tenure in 2011-12, Schwartz established himself as a productive member of the organization during the 2013-14 campaign, recording 25 goals and 31 assists through 80 games. Since then, he’s posted over 20 goals in four seasons and registered over 50 points in five.

Schwartz also played a vital role on the 2019 Stanley Cup Champion team, scoring 12 goals and adding eight assists during the 26-game run to glory.

When healthy, there is little denying Schwartz’s value to the Blues. Of course, the crucial part of the previous sentence is “when healthy.” Unfortunately, remaining in the lineup has been an issue for Saskatchewan native throughout his time with St. Louis. Excluding the 2011-12 season, where he only saw action in seven games, the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, and this year (for a minute), Schwartz has only made it through an entire season without missing a game once. Ironically, that was the Covid-shortened season of 2019-20, where he played in all 71 games.

Looking at the standard years, he has missed ten-plus games three different years and has never made it through an entire 82-game year. Even this season, where the team only played 56 contests, Schwartz only suited up for 40.

Now hockey is a physically demanding sport. There is no denying that players are going to miss games from time to time. However, when a team relies heavily on the production of a particular player, durability plays a crucial role in determining the desire to keep him aboard. With Schwartz, the Blues realize that him getting sidelined is an unfortunate likelihood.

Now, if the Blues could bring back Schwartz on a reasonable contract, considering both price tag and term, St. Louis might believe the positives outweigh the injury risk and re-sign him this summer. In all reality, though, that will not happen.
Coming off a five-year, $26.75M contract, the soon-to-be 29-year-old Schwartz is heading into free agency searching for his big payday. Regardless of how one might feel about him deserving it, the chances are up there that Schwartz can get more money on the open market than he would if he stayed in St. Louis.

As is the case with any player, Schwartz should go out and get the best contract possible. On the flip side, the Blues would be wise not to be a part of that game. As has been mentioned ad nauseam already, St. Louis needs to undergo a bit of a facelift. Allocating the money they might spend on Schwartz’s return to those efforts makes the most sense. Also, one would like to think that his production and presence are, in theory, replaceable.

By all accounts, Jaden Schwartz has been a beloved member of the St. Louis Blues since he joined their ranks ten years ago. Unfortunately, making decisions solely based on your heart in professional sports ends up burning you. This offseason, St. Louis cannot afford to be burned. For that reason, Schwartz has likely played his last game as a member of the Blue organization.
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