As the old adage goes “You have to take the good with the bad” so too did the Florida Panthers this season when regarding Scottie Upshall. Though GM Dale Tallon took some big gambles this past offseason on who to sign – which paid off – there always will be things which he cannot control such as injuries.
The 28-year old Fort McMurray, Alberta Native, Upshall had been a 30-point producer over the past four seasons with time spent as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets. Last season, Upshall tied a career high in points (34) while scoring a career high 22 goals while spending time with the Blue Jackets and Coyotes. Scottie also managed to appear in all 82 games of the regular season despite playing for two different franchises.
This determination to play every game night in and night out while still managing to be a fairly good point producer with some upside had to really stand out for Tallon when making a decision on signing Upshall. The stats speak for themselves, but sadly as I mentioned before, Tallon cannot control injuries.
Upshall began the season appearing in the first 15 games for the Panthers, scoring a goal and two assists over that time. Scottie even began the season with a fighting major in his first season as a cat – pretty impressive to both Tallon and management. Unfortunately, on November 10th Upshall left the game against the Winnipeg Jets with an Upper Body Injury which would see him miss the next 30 games.
Scottie would return to play on January 20th against the Chicago Blackhawks where he was held off the score sheet before being once again leaving the game four nights later against the Philadelphia Flyers with a sports hernia. Upshall returned on March 21st to help the Panthers with their playoff push as he played 9 of the final 10 games of the regular season scoring a goal and an assist over that time.
Upshall played in all 7 Panthers post-season games against the New Jersey Devils, scoring a goal and two assists over that span. Both of his assists come in a pivotal game 3 comeback as the Panthers trailed 3-0 in the contest, only to come back and win 4-3. In game 7 against the Devils, despite being held off the score sheet, Upshall led the way in the physicality department as he registered six hits in the game against the team from Newark, New Jersey.
Final Grade: B- Despite playing a partial season, Upshall showed promise, drive and perseverance in his 26 games this season. Unfortunately he didn’t get the chance to perform to the best of his ability due to his injury, but he proved he would work night in and night out based on his playoff performance. Even while on the injury list he showed promise and frustration as he tweeted several times that he could not wait to get back on the ice and help his team get some more victories, and if you ask me, that is true character and shows just what this team means to him. With a full season under his belt, he could possibly play a big role in this lineup.
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