(UPDATED INFORMATION FROM GAME TIME PROSPECT DEPARTMENT)
Well, this was unexpected...
Defying the "conventional wisdom" at every opportunity, Jarmo Kekalainen is making his last draft at the helm of the Blues' scouting department a memorable one. First, the Finnish mastermind goes way off of everyone's draft board to select a small-but-crafty Tier One scoring whiz, and not content with that, pulls another shocker a mere two picks later by taking advantage of a stunning trade to select the first-ever Russian chosen by the Blues in the first round.
At 14th overall, Kekalainen and the Blues selcted USHL scoring champion Jaden Schwartz of the Tri-City (Kearney, NE) Storm. At 5' 11, 180 pounds, Schwartz is hardly the biggest guy on the ice from a physical standpoint, but his talent is ten feet tall.
Presumably, the Blues got several looks at Schwartz over the course of the season while keeping tabs on 2009 draftee (202nd overall) Max Tardy. The two Blues prospects helped the Storm squeak into the USHL playoffs on the last day of the regular season, but managed only four points (3G, 1A) between them in three games as Tri-City was quickly eliminated.
The Blues gave Schwartz one heck of an 18th birthday present (born June 25, 1992) by selecting him 14th overall, exactly 14 spots ahead of where NHL Central Scouting had him ranked (28th overall) in their final rankings; that 28th spot was a 13-place jump up from his mid-term ranking of 41st in North America. With a 33-50-83 scoring line in 60 games with Tri-City, Schwartz won the USHL scoring title, becoming at age 17 the youngest player to do so in 27 years.
Jack Barzee, one of the top scouts for NHL Central Scouting, noted that Schwartz is "very deceptive and shifty through the neutral zone and strong on the puck. It's very hard to get the puck off his stick," while Tri-City coach/GM Drew Schoneck had this to say about Schwartz' game:
Jaden is not afraid of the traffic areas. He is always around the puck, be it in front of the net or in the corners, couple that with a fierce competitive nature and great vision on the ice, he is a threat every time he is on the ice.
Schwarz will attend Colorado College (WCHA) beginning in the fall, playing alongside his older brother Rylan, who put up a 6-22-28 scoring line (minus-2, 24 PM, 5 PPG, 3 GWG) as a freshman for the Tigers. Noted hockey insider Bob McKenzie ranked Schwartz the 29th-best player available in this year's Entry Draft; Central Scouting ranked him 28th among North Americans, International Scouting Services had him at 23rd overall, and The Hockey News ranked him 30th overall.
(ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS)
With the 14th overall pick in the first round, the St. Louis Blues selected center Jaden Schwartz. He's a little on the smaller size. There's a sad family story. Here's a great breakdown from Western College Hockey.
The Prospect Department said he will be around to add to this, but in the meantime, from Western College Hockey:
Name: Jaden Schwartz
Weight: 180 lbs.
09-10 team: Tri-City Storm(USHL)
09-10 stats: 60 games played, 33 goals, 50 assists, 83 points
Jaden Schwartz first got noticed in a big way in 2007-2008, when he broke scoring records held by NHL stars Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards at the famous Notre Dame Prep School in Saskatchewan.(Despite that, it should be noted Schwartz likely won't even be the first player off that Notre Dame Midget team to be picked in the draft, with that honor going to Brandon Gormley. Another ND teammate, Sean Couturier, may be next year's top overall pick) Schwartz, despite not being the biggest player, hasn't stopped scoring since. After a successful season in the SJHL, Schwartz decided to raise the level of competition in his draft year and play for Tri-City in the USHL. He did nothing less than impress by leading the league in scoring.
Schwartz's greatest asset is his ability to control the puck and to make plays in the offensive zone. His size works against him, and he isn't the fastest skater, but his rare playmaking abilities could make him a valuable player in the NHL.
Though Schwartz has been highly coveted by the WHL, he will most likely continue his hockey career at Colorado College next season, where his older brother Rylan will be a sophomore next year.The two brothers will be expected to help carry the Tigers' offense next season.
Recently, Schwartz's family suffered a terrible blow when Jaden's older sister, Mandi, a hockey player for the Yale University women's team, was diagnosed with leukemia. She will need a bone marrow transplant or stem-cell transplant in the next 30 or 40 days to save her life.
More to come, we promise.