The St. Louis Blues knew they were not taking a flyer when they signed Scottie Upshall. Even so, they have been pleasantly surprised with what they’ve gotten out of the steady player.
When the St. Louis Blues signed Scottie Upshall prior to the 2015-16 season, many fans were a little puzzled. They did not necessarily understand the move because, at the time, it seemed like he was a completely underperforming third-line player and the Blues had enough of those.
However, he has proved to be an invaluable piece and tremendous worker on the fourth line. Not too many people would have expected that, but Upshall has cast pride away and done everything for the betterment of the team.
At this stage of the game, he is a bit of a throw back type of player. He could have probably gotten more money, or at least more years somewhere else. He has found a comfort zone in St. Louis and the sacrifices have paid off in terms of team success.
Individually, Upshall is a testament to perseverance too. So many players would have clung to their glory days and searched out opportunity to regain their lost form.
Instead, Upshall realized that his days of 20 goals or over 30 points were likely behind him. With time still ahead of him, he wanted to win.
Win he almost did as the Blues got to the conference finals in his first year with the team. The Blues might not have gotten as far in his second go around, but it was not for lack of effort on his part.
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Upshall improved on almost all of his statistical categories from the previous season. He scored four more goals and had four more points.
He had more hits, blocks and a better shooting percentage as well. His playoff numbers, scoring wise, took a hit from his first year, but he was still out there doing his job.
Typically, fourth liners see even less of the ice during the playoffs. Upshall has still found a way to make his presence felt even when that has been true.
In last year’s run, he came up in some big moments. He scored a goal and contributed to two others.
This time around, there were no points to speak of, but Upshall was still out there. He threw his body around – one of the few Blues to do so in the playoffs – for 30 hits. He also blocked six shots, which was up from his time in the playoffs last year.
Clearly, the lack of offensive production will have to bring his grade down a bit. However, when he is not a guy you expect to score anymore and still gives you big minutes, he had a good season.
He played gigantic minutes on the penalty kill. The Blues were in the box too often, which ended up hurting his +/-, but it was not always his fault.
His 10 regular season goals proved that he can still have that scoring touch when asked to.
Upshall’s Corsi percentage did go down this season, but that was almost team wide. His line was asked or forced to be on the ice for a whopping 76.7% of defensive zone starts, which is a terrible number for the team but almost an excuse for why some of his numbers were down for possession.
Ultimately, Upshall had a very good season and continued to perform quite well for a secondary player in a diminished role. His future with the Blues is unknown.
He is one of the few unrestricted free agents the Blues have. If he is not in search of a raise and would not mind returning on another one-year (maybe two-year) deal, he would be welcome back.
St. Louis’ fourth line was one of their best and most consistent all season. That statement cannot be true for another season, but if they can play to the same level then it would be a great trio to keep around.