St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues sign Upshall; plenty of decisions remain

Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw, right, is sent flying after colliding with St. Louis Blues' Scottie Upshall while reaching for a puck during the first round of the playoffs. Upshall signed a one-year deal with the Blues on Wednesday.
Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw, right, is sent flying after colliding with St. Louis Blues' Scottie Upshall while reaching for a puck during the first round of the playoffs. Upshall signed a one-year deal with the Blues on Wednesday. AP

Veteran winger Scottie Upshall, who thrived on the St. Louis Blues’ fourth line last season, has agreed to terms on a one-year, one-way deal worth $900,000.

Upshall, 32, had six goals and 14 points in 70 games after joining the Blues as a free agent last summer. He also had a plus-minus rating of plus-5 and is coming off a contract that paid him $700,000 last season.

While the Blues have signed free-agent forward Dmitrij Jaskin (two years, $2 million) and now Upshall, their list of free agents remains a long one.

The list of players who can become unrestricted free agents July 1 are captain David Backes ($4.5 million salary cap hit in 2015-16), forward Troy Brouwer ($3.66 million cap hit in 2015-16), forward Steve Ott ($2.6 million cap hit in 2015-16) and center Kyle Brodziak ($900,000 cap hit in 2015-16).

The Blues are also trying to work toward a deal with restricted free agent Jaden Schwartz, whom Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong has called a priority signing. Forward Magnus Paajarvi is another of the team’s restricted free agents.

Schwartz is coming off a three-year deal worth $3.5 million. Despite dealing with an ankle fracture last season, the 2010 first-round draft pick still contributed eight goals and 22 points in 33 games. He also had four goals and 14 points in 20 playoff games.

The name of Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who becomes a free agent next season, has been mentioned almost constantly in trade rumors in recent weeks. Shattenkirk, 27, is in the final year of a four-year, $17 million contract.

With the Blues already nearing the upper reaches of the NHL salary cap, which raises only around $2 million this season to $73 million, trading Shattenkirk ($4.25 million cap hit) now might free up some money to help sign other free agents.

As of Wednesday, the Blues’ 2016-17 salary cap figure was just over $60.3 million.

Backes just finished a five-year, $22.5 million deal with the Blues. Unless he comes to terms with the team on a new multiyear deal, Backes will be considered one of the top free agents available.

Brouwer’s value is also high coming off a strong postseason run with the Blues, another factor in Backes’ favor.

Upshall has 121 goals and 248 points in 623 NHL games.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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