Jaden Schwartz is a special talent and that is why General Manager Doug Armstrong made him the top priority. Now, some St. Louis Blues fans confuse top priority with “Must Finish First” and that is where things got hectic.
You see, signing Kyle Brodziak or Scottie Upshall or handing Magnus Paajarvi another lottery ticket is one thing, and signing one of your core players to a large extension is quite another. The Schwartz deal took more grit and time, but in the end the right thing took place and the perfect contract was the result.
Why do I call it perfect? It’s not free of charge or includes free IMOS pizza, but it is formatted very well. It’s five years long for 26.75 million, producing an average annual value of 5.35 million. He isn’t being overpaid and also not being slighted for the special talent that he is. The No Trade Clause, an Armstrong favorite, doesn’t kick in until 2019, protecting Schwartz in the final years of his contract.
This is the front office equivalent of a GM hitting a monstrous home run and engaging in the mightiest bat flip of all time. Sure, it’s a baseball reference, but that’s happening right now as well so get over yourself. Armstrong did very good here. He protected the team and rewarded the player without rupturing the future.
It also helps the team and player avoid the uncomfortable situation that is arbitration. That is like asking Martin Scorsese to sit through Independence Day: Resurgence.
Schwartz hasn’t even given Blues a full serving of greatness. He hasn’t reached his full potential at the crisp young age of 24 years young. From 2013-2015, Schwartz scored 53 goals and 119 points for the Blues. An injury plagued season 2015-16 season still produced 22 points in 33 games. If Schwartz averages 60 point seasons with 25 goals mixed in, the deal is a solid one. I think he can and will do better.
Put this kid on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny and see what happens. Or put him with Alex Steen and Tarasenko. Put your best players together against any opponent, and the right gears are being worked. Tarasenko, Schwartz, Stastny, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jake Allen are your new Blues core. I like this one better than the last fleet.
While it hasn’t been easy to stomach, I think this youth movement is all part of Army’s plan. He sent off the 30+ crowd and made this team younger all over. He got younger up front, in net, and around the dirty areas of the team. Soon, he will get 20 years younger behind the bench. It’s a slow and difficult process. It makes the Blues unpredictable this winter as well as exciting. It’s a fresh looking team.
Does this heal all the hard feelings produced this summer? No. Schwartz isn’t a new talent and doesn’t replace the size lost in the David Backes and Troy Brouwer departures. The Note could still use some size on the top three lines(Ryan Reaves is your biggest forward right now). It doesn’t make it all go away, but it’s a surprising play from a GM taking a lot of heat for a team that just got to the Conference Finals.
Did I mention Schwartz is only 24 years old? The Blues have him locked in for his golden stretch.