A healthy Schwartz may be great match for Seattle Kraken with Beniers

Oct 5, 2022, 9:47 AM
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)

After four straight preseason wins, the Seattle Kraken dropped their first, losing 4-1 to the Calgary Flames on the road Monday night. Just as there was no reason to plan a parade after four wins, there is no reason to panic after this loss. The Flames are good and had nearly a full roster, and while the Kraken struggled through parts of the games, there were some bright spots.

Seattle Kraken Takeaways: What stood out from strong preseason start

In particular, the game provided a sneak peek of the impact Jaden Schwartz could have on the Kraken this season.

Schwartz was playing in just his second preseason game and found himself on a line with rookie Matty Beniers and free agency addition Andre Burakovsky. He was a presence Monday, and his game may be a great match for the young Beniers this season.

Schwartz is healthy

The Kraken brought Schwartz in last summer as one of their first-ever free agent signings, nabbing the veteran St. Louis Blues forward for a five-year, $5 million per year deal.

It was hoped that Schwartz would be a mainstay in the team’s top-six forward group and provide some scoring depth. That had been his profile with the Blues, a guy who would give you double-digit goals along with a strong two-way game.

He scored more than 20 goals in a season four times, and during the Blues’ Stanley Cup Championship run in 2019 he potted 12 goals in 26 playoff games. The reason he was attractive to Kraken general manager Ron Francis was obvious.

Last season with the Kraken, Schwartz scored eight times but was sidelined with injuries that limited him as he missed 45 games. It was a blow to the Kraken forward group and his impact was ultimately lessened.

On Day 1 of Seattle’s training camp at the end of September, he was “ready to go.”

“I think our expectations are a lot higher,” Schwartz said. “We want to start off with taking it a day at a time here and have a good camp. Our start last year wasn’t where it needs to be so I think that’s going to be a big goal for us. We have a new team this year, we have a lot of new players, we got a lot better over the summer and I think each guy’s hungry to prove ourselves and prove to each other that we can be a lot better.”

He’s looked good in camp and with the number of players the team wanted to see in game action, Schwartz and fellow veterans like Jordan Eberle skipped some of the early preseason games. That doesn’t mean he isn’t being counted on this season.

Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol is happy Schwartz is healthy and ready to go.

“He’s a guy that fixes any line you put them on,” Hakstol said about Schwartz. “You put them on a line and that line is gonna find success. The way he goes about his business is a little bit under the radar, but it’s not within our group, inside of this room. The things that he does out there to generate possession, and more importantly generate offense off that possession are really important. So long story short, I know he’s a (heck) of a competitor and he knows how to get the job done in this league.”

A Schwartz-Beniers combo for Seattle Kraken

One preseason game is as small a sample size as it gets, but Schwartz displayed all the assets Hakstol mentioned Monday night playing with Beniers.

He was hard on the forecheck, dug pucks out of battles on the board to keep the possession alive, and went to the net without fear. On a night where the Kraken were losing the puck possession battle to the Flames for two-thirds of the game, the Beniers line was strong and created more shots at 5-on-5 than it allowed.

A tough, go-after-the-puck guy like Schwartz could be an asset to the younger Beniers, who could then be freed up to feed the puck to a scorer like Burakovsky. The trio could work and become tough to play against as a matchup problem with a combination of grit and skill, some of which we got a glimpse of on Monday.

Schwartz has to stay healthy to be on this line. So far he looks good, and if he can find that health and play a full season, he could be an underrated key asset for the Seattle Kraken this season. Playing alongside a playmaker like Beniers could help Schwartz hit that 20-goal mark again.

It looked good Monday, and it may be the line that gets deployed in Friday’s preseason finale, but Hasktol reminds that it’s still too early to read into what his ultimate lines will look like.

“I wouldn’t read too much into that right now,” Hakstol said prior to Monday’s game. “I would assume pieces of it will be (our final lineup), but it depends on where we’re at coming out tonight and going into practice on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Meet Buoy the Troll, the first-ever Seattle Kraken mascot

Seattle Kraken

Seattle Kraken Jordan Eberle...
The Associated Press

Kraken get 1st win over Golden Knights, Burakovsky scores 2

Andre Burakovsky scored twice and the Seattle Kraken won 4-2 for their first victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.
2 days ago
Seattle Kraken Martin Jones Justin Schultz...
Andy Eide

Kraken Breakdown: The impact of Seattle’s top 4 offseason additions

The surprising Kraken are surging thanks in no small part to four key additions last offseason. Andy Eide breaks down their contributions.
2 days ago
Kraken Oleksiak...
The Associated Press

Kraken set club record for goals, beat Sharks 8-5 to keep rolling

Jaden Schwartz scored twice and the surging Seattle Kraken set a team record for goals, overcoming Timo Meier's hat trick in an 8-5 victory over San Jose.
4 days ago
Seattle Kraken Jared McCann...
Brandon Gustafson

Kraken star Jared McCann on Seattle’s Year 2 success, team’s confidence

Star Seattle Kraken winger Jared McCann joined Bump and Stacy and talked about the team's jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and more.
4 days ago
Seattle Kraken...
Andy Eide

What’s allowing Seattle Kraken to have success in OT, close games?

The Kraken are thriving in close games, including in overtime. Andy Eide breaks down how that's happened, including their last two wins.
5 days ago
Seattle Kraken Justin Schultz...
Brent Stecker

Playing close to home, Kraken newcomer Justin Schultz having big impact

Kraken defenseman Justin Schultz joined Seattle Sports' Bump and Stacy to talk about the team's cohesion and playing in his home region.
7 days ago
A healthy Schwartz may be great match for Seattle Kraken with Beniers