The St. Louis Blues are in somewhat of a pinch with all their injury problems and the 2017-18 season has not even begun yet. With that in mind, they are looking to someone familiar to rejoin the team.
Before we even begin, it should be noted that as of writing this article, there has been no official announcement by the St. Louis Blues regarding any player signing. Still, there is enough smoke regarding this to figure there is fire.
The Blues, while not announcing anything yet, are reported to have signed Scottie Upshall. There are still a lot of question marks around this deal, but it should help the team.
The first question would be how much they are paying him. One report had the total at right around $800,000. That’s about what you should pay him at this stage of his career and given the lack of interest elsewhere.
However, that wipes out any savings you would get by placing Robby Fabbri on Long Term Injured Reserve. So, the idea of bringing in outside help becomes even less likely.
Another question would be the length of the deal. It is hard to imagine the Blues giving anything more than a one-year deal, especially since Upshall just got out of a PTO (professional tryout) contract with Vancouver. Nothing would shock me though.
Overall, this deal, if and when it happens, makes a lot of sense. Fans are not going to be clamoring over the signing of Upshall, but it does help the team without really taking away a roster spot.
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Some people will disagree with that last statement and it is understandable why. However, Upshall is going to return to the fourth line.
That is a good thing because it keeps the minutes the team will depend on Chris Thorburn limited. In fact, if you just plug Upshall into the recent line predictions, you simply share time between Upshall and a prospect and Thorburn only gets in during rivalry games or somewhere a scrap is needed.
On top of that, it brings back the combination of Upshall and Kyle Brodziak. Yes, the Blues will be without Ryan Reaves, however the combination of Upshall and Brodziak helped form one of the most consistent lines for St. Louis in 2016-17. That statement might suggest more about other players, but it cannot be denied.
Another potentially overlooked benefit is the potential of bumping prospects further up the lineup. If the Blues truly think any of the prospects such as Tage Thompson or Klim Kostin or anyone else are worthy of making the team, they are going to make the team still.
If Upshall takes up a spot on the fourth line, that means the scorers will be on more talented lines. We wasted plenty of fourth line minutes on scoring type players during Ken Hitchcock’s time in St. Louis. If you think a player can make an impact in the NHL, having them play on a grinder line makes no sense.
Let these guys play in situations that suit their talents better, if they make the team. Having Upshall on the team gives the Blues more freedom to have guys in more comfortable spots.
The only downfall is the added strain to the salary cap. By itself, the signing adds nothing financially to the cap. However, it puts the Blues in a position that makes it extremely difficult to sign anyone else.
By no means is it impossible, but it is difficult. There are those that will blame Upshall for any other failed signings, but he fits this team.
He has already spent significant time with the Blues. He knows how to fit the Blues style, what the coaches expect of him and knows his teammates as well.
Upshall is not going to be the missing piece between this team winning it all or not. He is going to alleviate some of the burden on other guys and give the other players more freedom to play their own roles.
Now we simply wait until the ink is dry and the papers are filed.