The second act of Seattle Kraken forward Jaden Schwartz

Dec 9, 2021, 1:50 PM

Seattle Kraken Jaden Schwartz...

Jaden Schwartz of the Seattle Kraken reacts after his goal against Anaheim on Nov. 11, 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

On a night where there weren’t many positives for the Seattle Kraken, Jaden Schwartz returned to the lineup after missing two games and promptly notched his team-leading 13th assist.

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There is plenty of hockey left to play this season, but as it currently stands Schwartz is on pace to crack the 60-point mark, which he has only reached once in his career during the 2014-2015 season. It’s a resurgent throwback for the 29-year-old winger who carved out a spot in St. Louis lore in a decade playing for the Blues.

Before he was one of the Kraken’s alternate captains, Schwartz was the 14th overall pick of the Blues in 2010. He played a central role in the Blues winning their first Stanley Cup, scoring a team-high 12 goals in the 2019 playoffs to go along with eight assists. He followed that up by playing all 71 games and finishing with a 22-goal, 35-assist season in 2019-20.

The effects of a pandemic that has fundamentally altered all of us in one way or another did the same with Jaden Schwartz in 2020, however.

Already unable to see his family in Saskatchewan due to the US-Canada border being closed, Schwartz then lost his father, Rick, who died from a heart attack in November. The grief nearly swallowed him up as Schwartz contemplated not playing during the 2020-21 season.

Ultimately Schwartz did play last season, but with his mind elsewhere and dealing with injuries, he scored just eight goals and 13 assists in 40 games. Those 21 points were his lowest total since his first full season in the NHL back in 2012-13 season, and as a free agent for the first time in his career, Schwartz decided a fresh start was needed.

The change in scenery, as well as a long-ago connection to Seattle, appears to have rejuvenated the scoring prowess of the left winger. The Kraken have played their best hockey when Schwartz has contributed, and it’s not surprising to see that the Kraken went 1-4 during his slow start to the season (no points in five games after the opener). Nevertheless, Schwartz found a rhythm by the end of October, recording points in five straight games, including a one-goal, two-assist performance in a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 4.

It was a productive past month for Schwartz: five goals and eight assists in November, and what should be encouraging is his immediate contribution with an assist against the Penguins in his first game back from a lower body injury that caused him to miss two games.

As the Kraken have started to find their chemistry and connection on the ice, familiar archetypes have emerged that help build kinship between a team and its fans. The recognizable stars you can become attached to are now prominently emerging at the forefront of the team.

No, these aren’t official superhero titles, but we’ll capitalize them as such: Jordan Eberle is “The Scorer,” Brandon Tanev “Mr. Energy,” and Yanni Gourde “The Glue Guy.”

Where does that leave Jaden Schwartz?

Well, because this is hockey, his actual nickname out there is “Schwartzy,” but you could call him “Logistics,” “Supply Chain,” or whatever fun name comes to mind. Whatever his nickname might be, his place on this team is undeniable: a leader and a guy who dictates and sparks the scoring in every game.

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The second act of Seattle Kraken forward Jaden Schwartz