The St. Louis Blues have signed forward Jaden Schwartz to a five-year contract worth $26.75 million. The deal means that the team and player will avoid the arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
“He’s an important player for us now and an important player in the future,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “He’s entering the best part of his career, and to have him signed, having [Vladimir] Tarasenko signed, we’ve got Jake [Allen] signed now for five years and [Alex] Pietrangelo for four more…so the nucleus of our team is obviously getting younger.”
The 24-year-old from Wilcox was a restricted free agent and the new deal runs through the 2020-2021 season. It carries a modified no-trade clause for the last two seasons.
The contract symbolizes the youth movement in St. Louis, with Tarasenko and Schwartz formulating the nucleus of the team. The Blues saw David Backes, Steve Ott and Troy Brouwer leave via free agency, plus they traded netminder Brian Elliot to the Calgary Flames.
Schwartz played just 33 games last season after he broke his left ankle at practice in October. He managed 22 points in those 33 games, however, and put up eight goals. In the post-season, Schwartz contributed 14 points in 20 games.
His best season came in 2014-2015, when he put up 63 points in 75 games – including 28 goals. He scored 25 goals in the 2013-2014 season.
Schwartz was drafted by the Blues 14th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He’s played 240 games for St. Louis and has 157 points. Injuries have been an issue, as he plays a fast style that potentially leaves him prone to getting banged around a little. He is an aggressive player and that could spell trouble for a man of his size.
With 22 contracts, the Blues find themselves $4 million under the NHL’s salary cap. Vladimir Sobotka is said to rejoin the team in the summer, which will add a $2.725 million charge to the cap. He’s been playing with Omsk Avangard in the KHL for the past two seasons.
“This year it looks like we’re in a solid spot now,” Armstrong said. “Obviously next year, we have some key players that are unrestricted free agents that we’ll have to either re-sign or open up space for us to do other things.”