Keith out again for Blackhawks

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (hand) will miss his third straight game tonight as Chicago hosts Vancouver.

“He’s not going tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville told reporters this morning. “We’re looking for him on the next road trip.”

The ‘Hawks are 1-0-1 without Keith.  In Friday’s 5-4 overtime loss in Tampa Bay, Brent Seabrook picked up the slack and played 27:59, while Niklas Hjalmarsson was on the ice for 24:05.

Chicago’s next game is Tuesday in St. Louis.

The Blackhawks won’t be the only team missing key players at the United Center. The Canucks will be without forward Alex Burrows (back spasms) and defenseman Sami Salo (groin).

“We’ll see how they feel in the next couple days,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “If either one had been able to go, they would’ve went. It’s just both of them feel they’re not quite there, so we’ll see how they do this week.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Rome could draw in on the back end after missing the first 14 games of the season with a hand injury.

“We’ll see how he feels tonight and we’ll make that call tonight before the game,” Vigneault said of Rome. “We’ll see what we have (for pairings) if Aaron goes back in, but we need our whole group to play well. I thought in St. Louis (on Friday), for the most part it was one of our better defensive games. Against Chicago we’re going to have to be real strong without the puck and I’m confident that we can do that.”

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”