Sophomore left wing Jaden Schwartz abandoned Colorado College on Monday, signing a much-anticipated professional contract with the St. Louis Blues. And his departure opens the door for his older brother, Rylan, to also leave the Tigers early for the pro ranks.

Jaden Schwartz, 19, inked a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blues, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2010, and he’s expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday in Chicago vs. the Blackhawks. He’ll wear No. 9, one digit higher than his CC number.

The NHL-leading Blues kicked off talks with Schwartz (at the advice of Blues director of player personnel Dave Taylor, who has heavily watched Schwartz in recent weeks) after CC suffered a season-ending loss Saturday vs. Michigan Tech in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs. His contract is worth $700,000 a year, to be prorated based on the length of time he’s on the roster, and because he signed so late in the season, he’s not eligible to be demoted to the Peoria (Ill.) Rivermen of the American Hockey League.

In a statement released by the Blues, Schwartz said it has been “a dream of mine to play in the NHL, and I’m excited to be able to do it as a St. Louis Blue. The Blues are having a terrific season, and I will do whatever they need me to do just to help out.” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said in the same statement Schwartz “had an excellent college career, and we are excited that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL,” adding that he thinks Schwartz will bring “depth to the skill level on our team and give us some options as we begin this stretch drive.” Phone messages left with Schwartz haven’t been returned.

Schwartz feels confident in his abilities following a productive season in which he led CC with 41 points, including 15 goals and a team-high 26 assists. He had four game-winners, and five of his goals came on the power play, as he marked a point in 26 of his 30 games – he missed six games to captain his native Canada at the world junior championships.

Earlier, Schwartz said his late sister, Mandi, always told him to follow his heart. He’s not the biggest guy, at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, however, he possesses sharp instincts, he’s patient, he’s unselfish and he owns good vision. Plus, he’s a playmaker, like his brother, a junior center who recorded 40 points, including a team-best 23 goals, with a national-best 11 on the power play. Rylan Schwartz has attracted interest from the Blues, sources told The Gazette, but he wasn’t drafted in the NHL, so he can sign with any team he wants.

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