Perhaps the player that best embodies Dale Tallon’s love for gritty players with a point-scoring knack is Scottie Upshall. The former sixth overall pick by the Nashville Predators in 2002, Upshall has played a tough, grind-it-out style of hockey for Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Columbus. Now, signing a 4 year, $14 million contract with Florida, Upshall will bring his grittiness to Florida, and hopefully some offensive production, too.
Scottie Upshall specializes in his good skating, adeptness in the corners, and his ability to play both wings effectively. He is a responsible two-way player, as he is a career +24. Another asset he has is his agitating nature. Upshall can easily spark the Panthers’ fire in a game, or frustrate the other team. Of course, Upshall needs to restrict that nature in the locker room, since his competitiveness can make him an isolating figure in the locker room.
Upshall is naturally a 20-goal scorer, and he lit the lamp 22 times last year. The only issue that Panther fans could find with Scottie is his durability. Last year was the only year where he played all 82 games in the NHL. Scottie’s rambunctious style in the corner has lead to some knee and ACL troubles over his career.
Fortunately, though, Upshall will be 100% going into training camp with the Panthers. He also knows that the Tallon is paying him to score goals as well as play responsible defense, so expect Scottie to put the puck in the net at least twenty times again. If we can get a good amount of games out of Upshall this year, and if he plays within his means, Tallon’s contract will look very smart.