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A closer look at last weekend's "Geek of the Week": Scottie Upshall


 

This week Terry Campkin wrote about Scottie Upshall and his successful season so far. It made me think of last week’s buy low and sell high targets and how Upshall should be a sell now player.

 

I like how Terry methodically goes through his research and analysis but I have some of my own.

 

Terry asks two things, “Why is this happening? And – is this sustainable?” I have no objections to using frozen pool to validate the player’s output but basing it on the past three games is a bit of an over reach especially since Upshall has not produced like this in the past. That being said, when you are buying low you do take chances. So the answer to why is that he has been given more opportunity to shine.

 

In my efforts to discover if this opportunity can last or will it disappear I found several notes about Scottie.

 

In The Hockey News Ultimate Pool Guide 2007-08 the individual player caption reads, “Upshall did something with the Flyers he failed to do with Nashville – make an impression. He’s set up this season on a scoring line, so expect decent numbers”. He went on to get 30 points in 61 games.

 

The Hockey News Fantasy Pool Guide 2008-09 indicated, “Upshall has played parts of five NHL seasons and last year was his first full one. Injuries are a problem and rising above the third line is a bigger problem”. That does not sound like he made the impression that was expected from the previous season. From the Score Sports Forecaster 2008-09 NHL Preview & Fantasy Guide, “Upshall brings lots of speed and energy to the table but, as the No. 6 overall pick in 2002, where is the consistent offense? In 2007-08, he had an excellent opportunity to showcase his skills but remains outside the Flyer’s top six forwards.” Oh-oh. He had lost opportunities before. This could mean that he will likely lose out on opportunities again.

 

In the THN Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide 2009-10, the comment was “Energy player gets third-line scoring numbers.” For the 2010-11 guide it said, “Was having a great offensive season before injury. Even so, that was out of character” and the 2011-12 guide had, “Third-liner mostly brings potatoes to the party. Don’t expect desert.”

 

The next two THN guides do not even have a blurb about him. His projected values were 24 and 26 points for the season. He registered five points in each of those seasons.

 

Terry assumes that he has not been given an opportunity like this before when he wrote, “I open up my guide from this season and see that Upshall has an upside of 60 points, which reinforces the theory that the guy has some talent and is currently seizing an opportunity that hasn’t previously been afforded to him.” That is not what I would conclude given the written comments from all those previous mentioned guides.

 

His profile on thn.com has his flaws as, “Is inconsistent in the scoring department. Needs to avoid injuries, since his rambunctious style can often lead to issues. His trash-talking ways can also get him, as well as his team, into trouble.”

 

Returning to the question, is his current situation sustainable? My answer would be no. A short little blip, maybe a half seasons worth at most but not likely much more. A combination of other players will take his opportunity away from him or he will get injured. Sell when you can, if you can.

 

I do not want to stop at that portion of Terry’s analysis though.

 

At the same point of his article he comments, “Another thing I always want to check out is the upside/pedigree of a player, especially when that player’s career high point total is a number that is lower than my waist size” and continues to say, “A quick look at his NHL draft position reminds me that Upshall was once a sixth overall pick and now I am sold – ok, maybe this guy really does have some potential.”

 

We all know that draft position does not predict or correlate to ensured future success. There are many cases that show failures of highly drafted players and also of late drafted players that succeed their expectations. The general assumption is that a player drafted in the first round of the NHL entry draft is going to be given more opportunity to succeed than a seventh round player. This seems to have happened to Upshall.

 

Looking at some of the forwards drafted after Upshall, whom are incidentally also approximately 30 years old, we find Joffrey Lupul, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Alexander Semin, Chris Higgins, Boyd Gordon, Daniel Paille, Sean Bergenheim, Alexander Steen, Matthiew Stajan, Jiri Hudler and Tomas Fleischmann. It is interesting to note that Bergenheim and Fleischmann are also on the Panthers.

 

At his age, maybe he is encountering this current opportunity because the Panthers are trying to move him or that they are not yet ready to allocate the same chances to some of their other youngsters.

 

I focus on his point production because that is the stat that is most seductive at the moment. He can be a good short term buy but don’t bet the ranch on him and be ready to sell/trade/claim for something better.

 

Cause who wants to be stuck with a 30 year old geek on their roster? I don’t.


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