August 18 2012 10:45AM
The Canucks surprised many with the early season trade acquisition of David Booth from Florida. Although the Canucks had already been burned by acquiring a $4 million player from the Panthers just one year previous (Keith Ballard), the team had a hole to fill on the second line, and on paper Booth looked to be the right guy to fill it.
As a Canuck, Booth's play ranged from OK to good – he was dominant at times, and looked a bit lost at times, too. Ryan Kesler's offensive struggles likely contributed to Booth's lack of production, and his underlying numbers (fancy stats) are pretty good. They paint a picture of a player who should see his production increase this coming season.
Booth scored some nice goals in Vancouver, and he did start to play with more aggressiveness and confidence as the season wore on. On the last day of the season he was named the team's most "exciting player" by the fans, an award that was widely mocked on Twitter. That was before Booth shut everyone up by scoring a beauty goal against the Edmonton Oilers on April 7th.
Let's break it down (if you are a fan or relative of Andy Sutton, now may be the time to turn away from the computer screen).
Kevin Bieksa has just dropped the puck off to Booth. The Oilers back off as Booth is coming with a lot of speed, and the Canucks are on the power play. This is also the only frame in which Sutton is in proper position.
See that giant Oiler beside Booth in the neutral zone? That is Sutton. Not really sure what he is thinking here. Did he see a shiny object on the ice? He skates very well for a big man, but too bad he takes himself so far out of position that Marc-Andre Gragnani even laughs.
The old adage “play the man, not the puck” must have not been repeated at Edmonton practices much. Two Oilers, defenseman Jeff Petry and forward Chris VandeVelde are both watching the puck while Booth shows he is more than just a pretty face with a slick outside-inside deke.
Sutton is in the process of turning around in the neutral zone. Or maybe he's going off for a line change.
The good news for Edmonton goaltender Devan Dubnyk – there are three Oiler skaters around the net, and only two Canucks. The bad news – Booth is in front of all of them. Booth skates in all alone on Dubnyk... and you can guess what happens next.
This is the only time I have ever seen a still image of Chris Higgins gliding as a Canuck. That guy works his butt off.
Probably a good thing Dubnyk wasn’t mic’d up for this one. I think playing goaltender for the Oilers would burn a lot of calories, too.
Eyes on the puck next time, gentlemen. Booth’s good looks aren’t a good enough excuse here...
Booth was known in Florida as a fearless power forward. He wasn't a physical presence the way Milan Lucic or Jarome Iginla play the position, but Booth uses his 6-2, 220 pound frame to crash the net with reckless abandon. The Canucks didn't have a player of that ilk before acquiring him.
The question mark with Booth in recent years has been his health, and more specifically, his head. He didn't play with the same consistent net drive after suffering a serious concussion a few years ago, and that was likely one reason why the Panthers felt he was expendable.
Booth's goal is hopefully a sign of things to come. He was largely ineffective in the first round loss to Los Angeles, but he did start to take the puck to the net with more regularity in March and April. The Canucks have a lot invested in him, and they need him to do this kind of thing a lot more in 2012-13.