The Seattle Kraken wanted Jaden Schwartz to be a key member of their inaugural season. When free agency opened on July 28th, they gave the 29 year-old a five year deal for $27.5 million.
“Jaden plays a responsible two-way game and knows how to put the puck in the net,” said Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis. “He brings veteran leadership to our group.”
A new report reveals that Schwartz almost didn’t play last season after unexpectedly losing his father to a heart attack the age of just 59.
Seattle Kraken: Jaden Schwartz almost sat out last year
Schwartz struggled last season with only 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 40 games for the St. Louis Blues. A fairly steep drop off from his usual point production. In 2019-20, he notched 57 points in 71 games, but it took all his will power just to try and play.
The COVID-19 pandemic was still raging back in December when Jaden learned his dad passed away suddenly. “I didn’t even know if I was going to come back,” Schwartz told Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic. “This past year was pretty tough on me and my family. I didn’t have much motivation to play and didn’t really have time to train. Back home, everything was closed and we had to quarantine, and with my dad passing, it was a lot on me. I wasn’t in a very good place.”
Despite trying to do everything possible to get ready for this past season, Schwartz knew he wasn’t where he needed to be. “I knew my mom and family really enjoyed watching me play hockey, and my dad would have wanted me to go back and play. I mostly did it for them, but it wasn’t easy,” he revealed. “I think my teammates knew that I wasn’t at 100 percent.”
Schwartz excited about playing in Seattle
When talks didn’t go as he had hoped with the Blues, the thought of playing closer to home in Seattle became very appealing. His mom can now take a flight from Regina, Saskatchewan and be there in about four hours. It also helped that Ron Francis wanted and made him a priority during Free Agent Frenzy.
So with 385 points (154 goals, 231 assists) in 560 career games under his belt, he will now take his talents to the Kraken. “Mentally, I’m in a better spot, and I was able to train,” he said. “I feel fresh again.”
The Blues 14th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft will likely get first line minutes with the Kraken. A return to form is expected, and if he stays healthy he could flirt with the 30 mark. Schwartz scored 28 goals in 2014-15 playing an average of 18:15 a game. Increased ice time should only help improve his chances of hitting the 30 goal plateau.
Schwartz, along with Mark Giordano will lead the Kraken on the ice and in the locker room this inaugural season, which should be extremely exciting for the fans. One thing is for sure, Seattle signed a high character player who plays a two-way game and is easy to root for.