But a relatively slow start by the ex-Florida winger, that was exacerbated and magnified by the indifferent results of the team in the first 15 games, caused many observers to question whether the trade was worth the loss of Swede Mikael Samuelsson, who had fit in well with the Canucks in his two full seasons.
The concussion history and erratic production of Booth in his previous NHL seasons, tied in with his costly contract ($4.25 million cap hit over each of the next four seasons), also cast a shadow over perceptions of the complete success of the deal.
Some of those suspicions are currently being brushed aside however by the improved production of Booth during the recent strong run by the Canucks, who go into tonight’s home game against the Colorado Avalanche seeking their 7th win in their last 8 contests.
The winger left Florida with but 1 point in 6 games, but following his slow start he has managed to put up 12 points in 18 matches with Vancouver.
That includes 3 points in the previous home win over the Calgary Flames.
Booth has taken some time to establish renewed chemistry with his linemates Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins , after earlier playing stints with the US national program, but in recent games his strength and speed have been put on display with several powerful drives to the net.
Against Calgary, one such rush around the back of the net to the front created a rebound that was snapped upstairs by Chris Higgins and another resulted in a backhander from Booth that snuck between the goalie’s pads.
Watching Higgins’ and Kesler’s positioning during replays of these rushes was very revealing as well.
Compared to their initial confusion in earlier matches when Booth undertook similar rushes, it was evident that his linemates were unsure as to how to set up for these plays.
However, in the Calgary match you could see how well Higgins and Kesler have adjusted, and how they are better able to anticipate and react to where the puck will go and where it might emerge for rebounds and second chances.
Booth also came to Vancouver sporting a -6 rating in his 6 games with the Panthers, but he has improved his combined plus/minus to a -1, resulting in an admirable +5 rating during his 18 games with the Canucks.
Now that Mason Raymond has returned, Booth’s productive play has dropped him down to the lower line rotations, but this could prove very valuable for the lightning fast winger.
It allows him to play fewer minutes to continue his recuperation and it also puts less pressure on him to score right away.
Raymond’s speed and skill on a lower line would also enable him to take advantage against the weaker lines of other teams and he will improve the offensive depth of the Canucks. Raymond’s excellent play on the penalty kill will only enhance that unit as well.
As long as Booth maintains his current level of play, the Canucks stand to continue to reap the benefits as they move up the Western conference standings.
There is the danger that Booth’s intermittent production could return, but surrounded as he is by better players in Vancouver than those he skated with in Florida, he looks much better here as a very complementary part.