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Jaden Schwartz to make season debut for Blues

Forward will play against Oilers on Thursday after missing four games with elbow injury

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON - St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz will make his season debut Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m. ET; SNOL, FS-MW, NHL.TV).

Schwartz, 24, sustained a hyperextended elbow in practice on Sept. 29. He returned to practice with the Blues on Monday.

"He hasn't missed any time as far as ice, so I don't think that's going to be an issue for us, maybe his timing a little bit," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's been able to skate. He took two days off and was able to skate completely. He hasn't missed any time on the ice and he's been practicing with us for a week now. He looks like he's got a lot of jump and he looks like he's ready to play.

"Sure, there's going to be a tempo issue, because he was only able to play the one [preseason] game, but I think he's going to be up to speed right away."

Schwartz will play left wing on the Blues top line with center Alexander Steen and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko. They likely will be matched up against the Oilers top line of center Connor McDavid, left wing Milan Lucic and right wing Jordan Eberle.

"You just have to be aware of him [McDavid]," Schwartz said. "They have a lot of speed, but he's one of the quickest in the league, so he's a guy you have to be aware of and make sure you're not forcing pucks through the middle where he can pick it off. And when he does have the puck, you have to make sure you're tracking back hard."

Hitchcock said Schwartz is an important part of the Blues lineup.

"His tenacity and kind of the way we're built, we're a different team than we've been in the past, and he fits the way we're built right now," Hitchcock said. "Hopefully with his speed and tenacity, he can create turnovers. For a small guy (5-feet-10, 190 pounds), he's got a real strong stick, so I think he's going to surprise people, but he's good at stripping people and using his quickness."

Schwartz, of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, was the No. 14 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He had 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) last season, limited to 33 games because of a fractured left ankle. Two seasons ago, he established career highs of 28 goals, 35 assists and 63 points in 75 games.

"It's huge having him back," Blues forward David Perron said. "He's just a worker bee, he's on the puck, he's on the forecheck, and he plays the right way. He's not a big guy, but he plays big and he's got good touches around the net. Guys like him in this room and it's going to be great to have him back."

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