Remember when the Expansion Draft happened… like… a year ago? Oh, what? It was last Wednesday? Well, it certainly feels like it happened much longer ago, because so much has transpired for the Seattle Kraken in such a short period of time. In the frenzy of pre-Expansion Draft activity, one particular little nugget of news briefly showed its face before retreating back down into the depths of Lake Union. The Seattle Kraken had apparently had conversations with free agent left wing Jaden Schwartz about signing him and in turn selecting him from the St. Louis Blues. The conversations happened during Seattle’s 48-hour exclusive window in which it could negotiate with unrestricted free agents.
Sure enough, the Kraken did circle back with Schwartz, and on Tuesday, the day before free agency officially opens, Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reported that the deal was done.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the terms of the contract were unknown, but Schwartz is coming off of a five-year deal that carried an annual $5.35 million hit against the salary cap.
What the Kraken have in Jaden Schwartz
With the hockey world clamoring for the Kraken to snag Vladimir Tarasenko and his $7.5 million cap hit in the Expansion Draft, the team resisted and instead selected 24-year-old defenseman Vince Dunn from the Blues.
Why that’s relevant here is that one has to wonder if Schwartz was truly ready to sign with Seattle during its 48-hour exclusive negotiating window, but the team instead opted to have him wait so it could also get Dunn. Whether that’s the case or not, it’s a masterful job by general manager Ron Francis and company to end up with two very valuable pieces from St. Louis instead of one.
So what do the Kraken have in Schwartz? Well, first and foremost, he possesses the “never quit” attitude that Seattle clearly values in the players it has brought in so far. Watch him get in on the forecheck to pry a puck loose, then find a quiet spot in front of the net and bat the cross-crease pass out of the air to give his team a late lead in the 2018-19 opening playoff round against Winnipeg.
That season, when the Blues won the Stanley Cup, Schwartz played an enormous role, potting 12 goals in total and adding eight assists in the postseason. In the below video, you’ll get a good understanding of the types of goals that Schwartz scores. He has a nose for the net, and he’s willing to grind and battle in front to find space. But he also has good puck skills and regularly uses his exceptional hand-eye coordination to find and re-direct pucks.
The 29-year-old Wilcox, Saskatchewan, native remains a fan favorite in St. Louis, and it was interesting to see replies from Blues fans on Twitter Tuesday, who were generally quite angry that the team had reportedly lost Schwartz to the Kraken. That’s typically a good sign. In fact, even the Blues themselves apparently find him to be quite marketable, being that he still adorns the homepage of their website.
Jaden Schwartz by the numbers
In ten total seasons with St. Louis, Schwartz had 154 goals and 231 assists in the regular season, plus 26 goals and 28 assists in the playoffs. His peak offensive output came in 2014-15, when he posted 63 points in 75 games, including 28 goals. Schwartz was drafted No. 14 overall by St. Louis in 2010 after one season with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. He then played two seasons at Colorado College before turning pro and splitting his first season between the AHL and NHL.
He really emerged as a mainstay in the top six for the Blues in 2013-14 when he erupted for 25 goals and 31 assists. His possession numbers have been good over the course of his career as well (he was a plus player in Corsi for and expected goals for percentages in 2019-20), but those dipped into the minuses in the shortened 2020-21, when he also missed time with injury.
We shall see what the details of the contract are when they are announced (we assume) on Wednesday, but if the Kraken got even a fair deal here, Jaden Schwartz is a great signing that should be a huge factor in the early days of this organization.
Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email firstname.lastname@example.org.