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Are Upshall And Gomez A Fourth-Line Upgrade?

The Hockey News seems to think so.

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The Hockey News' team preview of the Blues seems fairly fair. It highlights the team's strength, points out the weaknesses, makes a stab at projected points (94 seems low), predicts a post-season appearance and then questions what the outcome will be there.

Basically, it's the same season preview of the Blues that we've read on other sites. And probably the same season preview you'll see here once we get ours together.

THN tossed in some advanced stats this time around, and baseball fans will see a familiar one: WAR, or Wins Above Replacement. If you're not a baseball person, or aren't familiar with the stat, here's a rundown from

The idea behind the WAR framework is that we want to know how much better a player is than what a team would typically have to replace that player. We start by comparing the player to average in a variety of venues and then compare our theoretical replacement player to the average player and add the two results together.

There is no one way to determine WAR. There are hundreds of steps to make this calculation, and dozens of places where reasonable people can disagree on the best way to implement a particular part of the framework. We have taken the utmost care and study at each step in the process, and believe all of our choices are well reasoned and defensible. But WAR is necessarily an approximation and will never be as precise or accurate as one would like.

We present the WAR values with decimal places because this relates the WAR value back to the runs contributed (as one win is about ten runs), but you should not take any full season difference between two players of less than one to two wins to be definitive (especially when the defensive metrics are included).

It's a stat that has been modified to fit hockey, though is still open to some debate as far as its application outside of baseball.

THN calls out the Blues fourth line rather harshly:

Where St. Louis has issues at forward is their fourth line which is one of the worst in the league. Even in limited minutes, the damage caused by icing Steve Ott and Ryan Reaves is worth about one win in the standings. That’s not nothing.

Not something that I necessarily disagree with. They then add this:

Fortunately, the Blues have potential replacements lined up in Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall who are on professional tryout contracts. If they can take spots from Ott and Reaves the Blues will be in much better shape.

This is clarified with the following WAR chart for Upshall and Gomez:

WAR Upshall Gomez
Source: The Hockey News

Keep in mind, these playoff chances are statistical estimates made before the team even sets foot on the ice. The odds are significantly higher with the addition of both Gomez and Upshall. This looks good for both players. However, they would have to unseat two players who are under contract for this season (and in Reaves' case, beyond). These are also two players that, especially in the case of Ott, Hitchcock favors.

I am in favor of seeing what these guys offer the team during training camp, but I certainly am not holding my breath that either of them will unseat any current player on the roster.