Jaden Schwartz, the collegiate scoring sensation and St. Louis’ first pick at the 2010 draft, will make his NHL debut on Saturday when the Blues take on the Lightning.
“You’re definitely pretty nervous,” Schwartz said after his first practice with the club. “I was excited but obviously really nervous. So I tried to control that as best I could and tried to have fun with it.”
To be accurate, news of Schwartz’s debut isn’t exactly, um, news. When he signed his three-year entry-level deal earlier in the week, Ken Hitchcock said the 19-year-old would debut against Tampa Bay.
What Hitch didn’t say is that Schwartz would be getting top-six minutes.
That opportunity presented itself after Andy McDonald suffered a “shoulder contusion” against Carolina on Thursday, opening up a spot for an offensively-minded forward — a role Schwartz is quite familiar with. In two seasons with Colorado College, he notched 88 points in 60 games; he also captained Canada’s bronze-medal winning team at the 2012 Word Junior Hockey Championships (five points in six games.)
According to Derek Goold of St. Louis Today, Schwartz will skate on the Blues’ second line with Patrik Berglund and Jamie Langenbrunner. (Fun fact: When Langenbrunner made his NHL debut in 1995, Schwartz was three.)
“I know what he can do,” Hitchcock said of Schwartz. “I mean transition-wise, from a terminology standpoint, this is going to be easy for Jaden. It’s the same terminology Don [Hay, Canada’s head coach] used in the World Juniors. So, hopefully, he’s going to feel comfortable right away.
“He’s a very responsible player, and I don’t think you can have enough of those guys at any time. Don said he was great killing penalties, out there at the start and end of hockey games, knew where to go on the ice. Smart guy.”