2010 prospects: Jaden Schwartz

By Holly Gunning

Ask around the USHL, and the word everyone uses to describe Jaden Schwartz is "smart."

It’s his on-ice smarts that let him know exactly when to thread a perfect pass to an open man for a goal. And why the center has 57 points in 40 games (36 of them assists) for the Tri-City Storm. He’s second in the league in scoring at just 17 years of age.

At just 5’10, Schwartz is shifty and elusive, which he needs to be to make up for his lack of size. Ten of his 21 goals are on the power play, and his intelligence puts him on the penalty kill as well.

Defenseman Nick Mattson of the Indiana Ice, who has seen quite a lot of talent coming down on him as part of Team USA, said that Schwartz is the hardest to shut down in the entire league.

"He’s really smart," Mattson said. "He’ll be coming down the wing and it will be a one on four and he’ll just pull up and wait and wait and hit a guy with a saucer pass coming in late. He’s good defensively too."

Schwartz recently played in the 2010 USHL All-Star Game in Indianapolis. Afterward he admitted to some first-period jitters playing in front of a litany of NHL scouts.

"The guys were all taking and having fun. Coach addressed us and said try to have fun and not worry about who’s watching," Schwartz said.

Schwartz mentioned he had been sick with a sore throat leading into the game, but didn’t think it affected his game. He started the game with T.J. Tynan and Connor Brickley of Des Moines, but the lines were mixed up all game. In any case, he didn’t feel it was hard to adjust to new linemates.

"Not really," Schwartz said. "I think everyone out there saw the ice really well. We’re all smart players. We had some give and go’s. It was pretty easy to adjust.

"I think I’m a pretty good playmaker. I see the ice pretty well, can make a nice pass. I missed a couple chances today — sometimes I can bury the puck a little more. I think for the most part [what you saw tonight] was my game."

Schwartz had an assist in the All-Star Game, a pass from behind the net to Ryan Walters. It was a pass that Schwartz tried again later as well.

Talented on the ice, he’s a stand-up person off the ice as well. Teammate Radoslav Illo (ANA) attested to Schwartz’s good character.

"He’s a good guy off the ice. He’s a lot of fun," Illo said. The winger also praised Schwartz’s good hands, smarts, decision-making, and defensive play.

Tri-City will only get one year of Schwartz though, as he is committed to Colorado College for 2010.

"I like everything about the program there," he said. "I like the coaching, my brother’s there too, which is pretty exciting. Looking forward to it."

Rylan Schwartz has had quite a bit of success at CC already, with 22 points in 28 games as a now 20-year-old freshman — tied for second in scoring on the team.

The brothers played together last year on the Notre Dame Hounds of the SJHL, and when they were young they played together quite a bit as well.

Joining Jared in the fall will Eamonn McDermott, another 2010 NHL draft-eligible and currently an opponent in the USHL. McDermott, who plays for Fargo, is tasked with containing Schwartz. Does he shut him down?

"Ha, maybe a little bit," Schwartz said.

McDermott, like Schwartz, is a smaller player. But someone forgot to tell him that.

"He plays like he’s about 6’1," Schwartz said. "He’s an aggressive player. He hits hard and offensively he’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played against."

Schwartz isn’t sure what he will study once he gets to CC, perhaps maybe business. Right now he’s still working on Grade 12. He plans to graduate with his high school at Notre Dame and is doing some online classes and getting homework sent down so he can pick back up there in April.

A few interested NHL teams have already talked to Schwartz, a bit of "getting to know you" after games, as he described it. Some have given him advice on things to work on to improve.

"For the most part, continue working hard, obviously get a little stronger — guys at the pro level are pretty tough," Schwartz said. "Get quicker, compete, and get better each and every day."

Often listed at 193 lbs, Schwartz said his correct weight is 180, a number he’s happy with for now.

He’s been lucky not to have had any major injuries in his hockey career, but has faced come personal adversity.

"Last Christmas my sister (Mandi) got cancer, so that affected me," he said. "Just stay positive and concentrate on the ice."

This summer he plans to go back to Regina, Saskatchewan to work out with Rod Flahr, a trainer of pro players and someone Schwartz has worked with for a few years already. He might also spend some time at CC if they want him to do so. Of course he could be attending the prospects camp of whichever NHL team drafts him as well.

Schwartz will be turning 18 at the end of June, and carving out some time to attend the NHL draft in Los Angeles, where he is expected to be the first non-NTDP player from the USHL drafted this year — likely in the late first round.