PROVIDENCE — This is Jordan Szwarz’ seventh season in the AHL. He last played in the NHL with Arizona at the tail end of the 2014-15 season.
At age 26 and on his second NHL organization, he’s crossed the line from prospect to depth player. But don’t even think about closing the book on his goal of making it as an NHLer.
With David Krejci out for at least the next two games, Szwarz could be in line for a recall if Boston decides it needs to add a forward. (UPDATE: Boston recalled Danton Heinen on Thursday morning) In a bottom six role, he is more than capable.
Szwarz, who is comfortable at both center and right wing, is coming off a weekend in which he scored five goals plus a shootout game-winner for the Providence Bruins. Boston GM Don Sweeney was in the house for two of those games.
Arizona’s fourth round pick in 2009, Szwarz played 35 NHL games for the Coyotes over two seasons and scored 4 goals.
He started last season with the P-Bruins on a PTO, but earned an AHL contract in short order. He went on to lead the team with 22 goals and 54 points, both career bests. He’s off to a fast start this season with 5-3-8 in 4 games.
Szwarz is achieving something that isn’t seen all that often in players who have put in as much time as he has in the AHL: He’s still getting better.
It’s a tribute to his work ethic and willingness to compete.
“That’s just who he is. He’ll be 38 and he’ll be doing that. That’s his makeup,’’ said Providence coach Jay Leach. “He’s always going to get the most out of what he’s got. He’s an awesome example for our guys.’’
Bruins executive director of player personnel John Ferguson Jr. is on board, too.
“Without question, he continues to improve as a pro. He’s become a top player at this level. Plays all 200 feet of ice. Plays all situations. And he plays hard. You’ve got to give him credit. He continues to work at his craft,” he said.
Szwarz, who played in a couple of NHL preseason games with Boston, is determined to reach the top again.
“I’m going to push myself as far as I can go every day. I want to get back in the NHL. That’s obviously what everyone wants to do down in this league. I’m going to do whatever it takes every day to get back there, doesn’t matter how old I am,” Szwarz said.
Szwarz credentials as a leader are well-established. He wore the ‘C’ with Saginaw of the OHL and with Portland. He wears an ‘A’ with Providence, as he did with Springfield.
Always a good defensive player, until last season Szwarz had never scored more than 12 goals in the AHL.
“I was still at a young stage in my career. I didn’t exactly have the offensive instincts that I have now. Each year that goes by, you learn more and more about the game. I think those offensive instincts are really starting to come out in my game in the last two years now,” he said.
The line of Danton Heinen, Szwarz and Austin Czarnik carried the P-Bruins last weekend. “It’s always easy playing with guys like that, good playmakers. I just want to go in and get them the puck, let them do their thing and good things happen,” said Szwarz.
If and when he gets the call from Boston, he is ready.
“I’ve played games in the NHL before as a fourth-line, energy guy. I know what it takes,” he said.