Tag: St. Louis Blues

Scottie Upshall

St. Louis offers Upshall a professional tryout


Will Scottie Upshall be the one to take advantage of the hole left in the St. Louis Blues’ roster by Patrik Berglund’s major shoulder injury? He’ll get that chance as the Blues have invited him to training camp on a tryout basis, per the team’s website.

Upshall, who will turn 32 on Oct. 7, is a veteran of 553 career NHL games. He has reached the 30-point mark on five separate occasions, but he was limited to eight goals and 15 points in 63 contests with the Florida Panthers last season.

He is coming off of a four-year, $14 million deal. Under other circumstances, he might have been able to secure a new contract by now to serve as a bottom-six forward, but with many teams up against the cap or their internal budgets, this has become a particularly rough summer for many veteran players.

The Blues have taken advantage of that by offering Scott Gomez a PTO as well, but St. Louis also has some young forwards vying for spots with two of the most noteworthy examples being Robby Fabbri and Ty Rattie.

Related: Hitch finds silver lining in Berglund injury

Crosby, Toews, Weber, Price lead pack in NHL 16’s ratings

2014 NHL Stadium Series - Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks

After unveiling the top 10 goaltenders for the upcoming video game NHL 16, EA Sports has done the same for every other position.

As was the case last season, Sidney Crosby has the highest overall rating at 96, but there are some alterations after that. In 2015, Steven Stamkos ranked second overall with a 93 rating and he kept that rating for 2015-16, but he’s been leapfrogged by Jonathan Toews (94), Shea Weber (94), and Carey Price (94).

Pavel Datsyuk (93) and John Tavares (92) round out the top-five among centers. Both Detroit and Pittsburgh have two players in the top-10 with Henrik Zetterberg (92) and Evgeni Malkin (92) securing eighth and sixth place respectively.

As previously established, Weber leads the pack among defensemen and is followed by Duncan Keith (93), Drew Doughty (93), Ryan Suter (93), and Erik Karlsson (91). Nashville is the only team with two defensemen in the top-10 as Roman Josi (90) ranks ninth.

When it comes to right wingers, Corey Perry (92) got the top position, although he’s closely followed by Patrick Kane (92). Vladimir Tarasenko (91), Jakub Voracek (90), and Marian Hossa (90) make up the remainder of the top-five. Phil Kessel, who was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh over the summer, saw his rating slip from 90 in 2014-15 to 89 following a rough campaign with the Maple Leafs.

When it comes to left wingers, it won’t surprise many to learn that Alex Ovechkin secured the top rating at 93. He’s followed by Jamie Benn (92), Taylor Hall (90), Zach Parise (90), and Max Pacioretty (89). The Dallas Stars’ acquisition of Patrick Sharp means that they now have two players in the top-10 as Sharp took the final place on that list with his 89 rating.

NHL 16 will be out on Sept. 15 in North America and Sept. 17 in Europe. If you want to see each position’s top-10 list, you can view them here.

PHT Morning Skate: Gretzky doesn’t ‘know if hockey has ever had a classier man’ than Arbour

1984 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 5: New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Wayne Gretzky knew the late Al Arbour’s Islanders well from their Stanley Cup Final meetings in 1983 and 1984 and Gretzky has nothing but good things to say about him. (Newsday)

Are you surprised by the lack of updates regarding the potential sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Maybe you shouldn’t be. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Here’s a detailed look at Valeri Nichushkin, who is one of the Stars’ bigger X-factors going into the 2015-16 campaign. (Dallas Morning News)

Vladimir Tarasenko’s eventful summer is coming to an end. Next he’ll join his teammates in the daunting task of living up to the high expectations thrust upon them after they’ve endured quick playoff exits in recent years. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Was Tuukka Rask’s workload an issue last season? (Puck Daddy)

Need a pick-me-up? Here are arguments in favor of each Western Conference team winning the Stanley Cup. (USA Today)

Hitch finds silver lining in Berglund injury

Patrik Berglund

Losing Patrik Berglund (shoulder) for at least four months is a setback, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock can see how this situation could have been worse.

“You never want to see a guy get hurt,” Hitchcoch said, “but it couldn’t come at a better time because it allows us to have preparation for finding his replacement. It gives us time to look at guys in training camp. We’ve brought in some NHL players to take a look at, bona fide NHL players, so we’ve got lots of time to see how it works.

“If this happens during the season or even during exhibition season, it’s a different story, but we’ve got a lot of time to figure it out and we’re going to get a good player back when we need him the most.”

Scott Gomez will be among those competing for a spot during training camp after inking a professional tryout contract on the same day that the Blues announced Berglund’s injury. This could also be seen as an opening for highly regarded prospect Robby Fabbri, although Hitchcock insists that whether or not he makes the team will be about how Fabbri does rather than the Blues’ situation.

Instead Berglund’s injury might be seen as creating more of an opening for some of the Blues’ more experienced prospects like Ty Rattie, who has spent the last two seasons playing primarily in the AHL.

The timing of Berglund’s injury also means that part of his recovery time will occur while no games of consequence are being played. The flip side to that is that after missing training camp and the early portion of the season, rust might be a factor.

Wild’s biggest question: Who will step up at center?

Mikael Granlund

In addition to whether Devan Dubnyk can replicate his 2014-15 season, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Minnesota Wild heading into this season is at center.

According to NHL.com, Wild centers were amongst the least productive in the league last season combining for 49 goals. Captain Mikko Koivu led the way with 14 goals while Mikael Granlund accounted for just eight goals.

In order to improve in this area they’ll need more from Granlund – the 23-year-old, who centered a line with Jason Pominville and Zach Parise last season, will be expected to contribute more offensively.

“I don’t think anybody anticipates Granlund to be an eight-goal, 40-point guy for the rest of his career,” GM Chuck Fletcher said after signing Granlund to a new two-year, $6 million deal in July. “He is going to take off here over the next two years.”

The Wild also believe Charlie Coyle can be a full-time center. Speaking with Mackey and Judd on ESPN radio in Minnesota last week, Mike Yeo said Coyle would start the season at center.

Coyle scored 11 goals and 35 points in 82 games last season.

“You look at a guy like David Backes, for instance, he’s a centerman, he’s pretty much a fulltime centerman right now, but he spent a lot of time bouncing around,” said Yeo. “I like (Coyle’s) improvement at center last year, in particular, in his defensive game, I know he’s a real reliable guy especially to have a big body like that. You can throw him out there against an Anze Kopitar, who is (6-foot-3) and (225-pounds), you know he’s not going to get out-muscled down low. That’s a real valuable thing to have.

“What’s important for him now is if he can take another step offensively playing that position.”

More will also be expected of Erik Haula. The 24-year-old, who signed a two-year extension earlier this month, took a step back last season. Haula scored six goals and 15 points in 46 regular season games during the 2013-14 season. He added four goals and seven points in 13 playoff games.

Last season, Haula managed to score just seven goals and 14 points in 72 games.

“Just because he had a bit of a down year last year, we’re certainly not ready to give up on him because we’ve also seen the flip side,” said Yeo. “We’ve seen what he’s capable of and it’s just a process that these young kids have to go through.”

The Wild also lost Kyle Brodziak in free agency. The 31-year-old was amongst the top-scoring centers in Minnesota last season with nine goals.

Related: Looking to make the leap: Mike Reilly