(HockeyStL) -- The St. Louis Blues announced on Monday that they have signed forward Jaden Schwartz to an entry level contract. Schwartz was drafted 14th overall by the Blues in the 2010 draft but chose to return to his school, Colorado College, for one more season.
"It's been a dream of mine to play in the NHL and I'm excited to be able to do it as a St. Louis Blue," said Schwartz. "The Blues are having a terrific season and I will do whatever they need me to do to contribute."
Schwartz’s college team was surprisingly eliminated in the first round of the WCHA tournament, and the Blues and Schwartz had a decision to make. Schwartz was expected to choose the Blues organization rather than return to college, but in a surprising turn of events, he wound up on the NHL team instead of in the minors.
“It was such a great opportunity, I thought over the last couple of years in college I improved a lot. I had a lot of fun there and I just felt like the time was right for me. I felt comfortable to move on.” Schwartz said in an interview with John Kelly on KTRS’ Hockey tonight.
Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong was very optimistic about Jaden Schwartz’s debut saying, "Jaden had an excellent college career and we are excited that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL," said Armstrong. "He will add depth to the skill level on our team and give us some options as we begin this stretch drive."
It is likely, however, that Schwartz is in the NHL only because the Blues have no idea when forwards Matt D’Agostini and Alex Steen will return from their concussions. Schwartz was kept in the NHL to provide depth and it’s a fair guess to say he will see a decent amount of playing time as the Blues’ season winds down and they prepare for the playoffs.
Schwartz, 19, had a great sophomore season with the Tigers, scoring 15 goals and registering 26 assists in 30 games played. Schwartz was named the captain of team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Tournament this year and led team Canada as they secured the Bronze medal. Schwartz told Kelly on KTRS:
“It’s such a prestige tournament, that’s a tournament you watch growing up your whole life. You learn a lot from playing with guys like that and playing against players, in an atmosphere, in Canada, it’s pretty fun to play in and you learn a lot just from playing in games like that. It was a lot of fun.”
Schwartz will add speed and skill to the Blues lineup and has been known to produce offensively, but it is unknown how effective he will be at the NHL level in his first season.
It has been speculated that the Blues signed Schwartz to an NHL contract because of D’Agostini’s and Steen’s lack of improvement. As of right now I the Blues are indeed forced to move ahead with the mindset that both D’Agostini and Steen are done for the year, but as with any concussion, there is no timetable, so the Blues felt this signing would add depth that they would possibly need down the road.
The Blues will not insert Schwartz into the lineup on Tuesday, and ultimately it will be up to Hitchcock when he plays his first NHL game, but it is likely he will find his way into the lineup by the weekend after he gets a few practices under his belt.
If Schwartz is able to adjust to the NHL’s style of play, he could be another contributor to the Blues’ skilled offense.