The Nashville Predators reassigned forward Scottie Upshall to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. Upshall, a fiesty 22-year-old winger who made significant contributions while filling in for the injured Scott Walker, returns to Nashville's top minor-league affiliate where he had accumulated 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 5 games this season before being called to Nashville on Oct. 31. He will not be required to clear waivers, based on his age and NHL experience.
"Scottie came in as an injury replacement, and has come up and really played well," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday. "He's played in a checking role, in an energy role as well as an offensive role. I think he's done a very good job. There are still small areas of his game that he can still improve upon. But in general, you ask a guy to come up and make it very difficult for decisions for the coaching staff. He has done that."
Upshall tallied 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points in 30 games with the Predators this season. That included a run of 7 points in 7 games from Dec. 13 to Dec. 27. Trotz said he told the 6'0", 197-pound native of Ft. McMurray, Alta., not to view the reassignment as a demotion, but as an opportunity to prove he deserves a regular spot with the Predators.
"We're getting Scott Walker back, which was the role [Upshall] was in the last little while," Trotz said. "As I said to [Upshall], there's a benefit to being a veteran player. You earn that right to be allowed to get your spot back after an injury. So at this point, he's going back, to allow Scott to get his game back. I said he's done the first step--force the coaching staff and the organization to make it a tough decision to send him back.... The second step now for him, as I said to him, is he's got to go back down and instead of maybe hanging his head and saying 'I've been sent down,' look at it as an opportunity to even put more pressure on our organization to say, 'Hey, this kid has stayed on task and is playing well and he deserves an opportunity to come back here and be back here and be a regular.'
"You want the best players to be playing in the National Hockey League every night," Trotz added. "So he's got to be the best player in Milwaukee. That's where his 'now' is."