The St. Louis Blues may have seen their season end a lot earlier than they had hoped it would, but during the season they did show that they have some young talent that will be a big part of keeping the team in playoff contention for the next few years. The Blues began the season by adding rookies Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz into the lineup, and both were able to impress but Schwartz was the more consistent player all season.
Tarasenko and Schwartz were both first round picks in the 2010 draft, with Schwartz being selected 14th overall and Tarasenko 16th overall. While Tarasenko came to the Blues with a great deal of hype as he made his North American debut, Schwartz had been honing his game in the AHL with the Peoria Rivermen during the lockout. He scored nine goals and had 19 points for the Rivermen in 33 games, making it an easy decision for the Blues to call him up once the work stoppage ended. Schwartz had appeared in seven games with the Blues last year after turning pro following his sophomore season at Colorado College, and he had two goals and three points in his first taste of NHL action.
This season, Schwartz scored seven goals and had 13 points, while playing in 45 of the Blues’ 48 games. When the playoffs rolled around, Tarasenko was a healthy scratch for most of the first round series, but Schwartz played in all six games and picked up an assist. The Blues could stand to see him score more, but he certainly looked capable of contributing at the NHL level, and has clearly earned the trust of head coach Ken Hitchcock. Schwartz’s performance in his rookie season earns him a solid “B” grade.