Joffrey Lupul

Leafs’ Lupul named NHL’s first star of the week


After leading the league with nine points in four games — including a NHL-best five goals — Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday.

Lupul, who missed 27 games this season with a broken arm, has returned from injury with aplomb. He’s scored at least one point in every game since coming back on Mar. 16 (granted, he was forced to sit out two games due to suspension).

Last week, he notched a goal in a 3-2 shootout loss to Boston, then went on a game-winning goal binge, scoring the deciding marker in a 3-2 victory over Florida, a 6-3 win over Carolina and a 4-0 victory over Ottawa.

The NHL’s second star of the week went to San Jose netminder Antti Niemi.

Niemi led the league in wins, with four, and posted a 1.22 goals-against average and .952 save percentage as the Sharks solidified their hold on a playoff spot.

San Jose currently sits sixth in the Western Conference with 40 points, three back of fifth-place Los Angeles with a game in hand.

Third star of the week went to Edmonton winger Taylor Hall.

Hall tied for first in the NHL with five goals and ranked second with eight points in four games — and accomplished a rare feat along the way.

In a 4-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday, Hall broke Wayne Gretzky’s franchise record for the fastest hat trick in franchise history. The 21-year-old scored three times in 7:53 — Gretzky did it in 12:38 back in 1986 — and was honored to find himself in such exclusive company.

“It’s a pretty special moment that I will never forget,” Hall said afterward. “Playing in an organization like this one, the records you are trying to break have been set by pretty legendary players.”

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.”