Schwartz back for Blues, will replace Backes on top line


After missing two games with an undisclosed muscle injury, St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz will be in the lineup tonight when the Blues take on the Habs.

What’s more, he’s getting a crack at first-line minutes.

Schwartz will replace David Backes (upper-body) on the Alex Steen-T.J. Oshie line, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Schwartz is a good fit given his offensive flair (eight goals 22 points in 31 games) and the fact he played with Steen during last year’s playoff series against L.A.

“I’m excited to play with those two,” Schwartz told the Post-Dispatch. “I’ve played with them before, so I’m a little bit familiar. They work hard and I want to add to that and obviously be responsible defensively.

“But I want to create offense as much as I can, and read off of them. I’m excited and hopefully they are, too.”

Backes — who’ll miss his second straight — isn’t the only Blues forward out tonight. Vladimir Sobotka is still dealing with an upper-body injury and is only “50 percent of where he needs to be,” according to head coach Ken Hitchcock.

Related: Steen agrees to extension with Blues — three years, $17.4 million

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.”