A lot of time has passed since I last featured the St. Louis Blues' Jaden Schwartz; he's considered a key part of the Blues' offense after a 28-goal and 63-point season in 2014-15 - good for third on the team behind Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen - though he only had 4 assists in 7 games this year when a fractured ankle made him miss the next 49.
He's set to return on Friday, as the team activated him earlier today. Paul Stastny's having a better season with the Blues, who could use a return to health to get in playoff shape... which could still mean a first-round exit to the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars or Los Angeles Kings.
Tarasenko, Steen and Stastny are regular contributors, Alex Pietrangelo (out for four more weeks), Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko and Kevin Shattenkirk (who may be on the move) make for a reliable defensive corps, and goalies Jake Allen (still injured, probably until mid-March) and Brian Elliott have been playing lights-out, but what used to be St. Louis' bread and butter - their offensive depth - has been a very shallow pool this year.
Coach Ken Hitchcock is showing signs of impatience and, sure, captain David Backes could probably do a lot more, but the Blues need three other top-six forwards to contend with the likes of Chicago, L.A. and Dallas in their own conference, and the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning (at least on paper) and Florida Panthers in the East. That won't be an easy fix for GM Doug Armstrong and assistants Martin Brodeur and Bob Gainey. (Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of either of those three in a managerial position).
Which means Schwartz' shoulders (and ankle) better get ready to handle some serious weight - perhaps even more than they should be expected to. Here he is wearing the Blues' white (away) uniform, from Panini's 2013-14 Score set (card #SS-JH in the Score Signature sub-set):