canucks

Why keeping David Booth might actually work out for Van City

The Last Great Deal

The 2011 acquisition of David Booth by Mike Gillis and the Vancouver Canucks was seen as nothing short of a coup at the time, but in the two years since I have become increasingly undecided on who for.

I mean, this seemed so cut and dry at the time. In exchange for a promising power-forward type thing, all Gillis had to give up were two expiring contracts in the form of Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson. And that’s not even the best part.

For reasons beyond me, in what I consider the last great move of the Mike Gillis era, he was able to get a third-round draft pick out of the deal; a draft pick that I can only assume won’t work out, because, well, you know… Gillis isn’t all that great with the whole drafting thing. Sorry?

Back to Booth. Yeah, things haven’t really gone as planned. In his first two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Booth has struggled mightily to stay on the ice and has done his absolute best to annoy the fan-base off it. In his first two seasons as a Canuck, Booth only played in 68 games and put up less than stellar numbers in the process (17G, 15A -1).

Granted, he came to the team about six games into the season for his first year and the second was only a 48 game season, but no slack shall be cut here.

The Best Decision the Canucks Couldn’t Make

David Booth

Will David Booth eventually pan-out for the Canucks?

The lack of scoring, and to a lesser degree the Twitter-trolling, have contributed to a halfway fascinating, but mostly absurd, disdain for the American as apple pie winger.

The majority of Vancouver – and even myself sort of – wrote him off as the Canucks’ second compliance buyout of the summer (with Keith Ballard being the first, duh) before he had even played his tenth game. It seemed only fair-ish at the time.

Booth had yet to score a single goal, and with the Canucks headed towards salary cap hell in the offseason, it just didn’t seem wise to give him another year to prove his worth at the cost of $4.2M against the cap.

That’s a lot of money to dedicate to a high-risk sort-of-high-reward type winger like Booth.

And I was of that opinion at Booth’s ten game mark, which was only one game before he suffered a broken everything in his left ankle.

In all seriousness it was listed as a broken ankle, but when you do a little research on what went into his surgery you gain just a little perspective on how screwed it really was. 

That same surgery and the long-rehab that would ensue meant the Canucks couldn’t buy out Booth and maneuver their way out from under his onerous contract and the remaining two years and $9.25M in salary.

While many were quick to bemoan the CBA technicality that has afforded Booth another season in Vancouver, maybe those same people should turn those frowns upside down or something.

Hear Me Out

For everything David Booth wasn’t able to accomplish on the scoresheet last season, there were oodles of stuff he did well off it — or on the less conventionally accepted scoresheet anyways. The dam was ready to burst, he just didn’t stay healthy long enough to reap the reward of his efforts.

In terms of possession, Booth was an absolute stud during his short stay with the Canucks this season. Playing musical chairs, mostly in the bottom-six, Booth was on lines generally centered by one of either Chris Higgins, Max Lapierre or Jordan Schroeder and still managed a 19.63 Corsi On, which ranked third among Canucks forwards.

Not bad for someone coming off of a nagging groin injury, playing mostly with Zack Kassian and Max Lapierre on the Canucks forth line.

The rain on Booth’s Corsi parade would be the fact that he was playing against substandard competition, to put it nicely.

David Booth

Come On Booth! Just get it done!

It’s far from a torrential downpour though, as you have to figure the level of competition he was matched against had a lot more to do with his linemates and conditioning than it did the coach’s faith in his ability. David Booth on the line or not, I would have to question Alain Vigneault‘s sanity if he were to put the Booth-Lapierre-Kassian lineup out against any line higher than the opponents third.

Most notably though, Booth was raising his linemates play drastically while being thrown from line to line. Take one Zack Kassian for example.

Sure, the Sedins did great things for Kassian in the earlier parts of last season, but nobody ever mentions the wonders that playing with David Booth did for his game. When playing with Booth, the “Kasquatch” was driving play to the effect of a nearly +5 Corsi/60mins.

That unto itself is something to behold, but when you realize that Kassian was nearly a -2.5 Corsi/60mins player without Booth, well, the stats really do tell the whole story.

Think that’s something? What about Lapierre being a -6.5 Corsi/60 without Booth and a +6.5 Corsi/60 with. That folks, is a difference in shot differential of about 13 for every 60mins. Which is a lot.

Luck, and Why Booth’s Should Eventually Change

A lot of Booth’s poor goal production has to do with luck, or lack thereof. As soon as he seemed to be getting a feel for playing in Vancouver in his first season, he goes down with a gruesome looking knee injury. Next season he starts off by doing everything right but score, and wouldn’t you know it he gets injured again. Now aint that something?

David Booth

Injuries have not helped David Booth so far.

If healthy, there’s just as many reasons to believe he can regain form as a 20-30 goal scoring power forward type thing, as there are reasons he can’t.

While a lot of these numbers, and oh how I crunched them, lead me to believe Booth can return to his 20+ goal form, I am well aware of the fact that this just won’t happen if he can’t stay healthy.

So much of his game is predicated on speed and entering the offensive zone with it.

Were Kesler to, you know, pass the puck to him (or anyone else for that matter) on occasion, this would be clear as day.

That being said, destroying one or more parts of your leg annually doesn’t lend itself well to a shoulder leaned speed rush from the half wall to the net.

I’ll toast to David Booth’s health, should it ever return for more than a week at a time, but I certainly won’t hold my breath. The same goes for his results, of which I can only hope to see on the more conventional of scoresheets in the not-so-distant future.

Does David Booth return to his 31 goal form? Does he break another something or other? Would you have bought out Booth, were the opportunity presented and viable under the conditions of the current CBA?

Let me know in the comments section below.

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About J.D. Burke

Living in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. the majority of his life, father introduced him to hockey at an early age and made sure his team was the Canucks. Eventually found himself loving the Seahawks. Masochistic much? Loves beer, novels, music, writing, long walks on the beach & sushi. "Be more like J.D." Connect with him today!
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  • Botched Another One

    He is only here cause he was hurt and we couldn’t buy him out while he was injured. He won’t work here, he is on borrowed time, wouldn’t be surprised if we buy him out at camp like the gomez/redden situation and carry the cap hit for a year just to make sure he isn’t hurt when the season rolls around next season. He is terrible player and an even worst person, good riddens Booth

    • J.D. Burke

      Right on. Yeah, I guess David Booth is similar to Scott Gomez in the sense that they’re both American and and and well, not in any way similar to Redden. Your “he’s a terrible player” analysis trumps his WOWY’s and through the roof Corsi, surely.

  • Travis Erbacher

    Very interesting points J.D. I wonder if it will help him being on a line with a Schroeder, etc? You never know if he’s going to be one of the guys to take to the new system either. It seems to me like there are situations that are far worse than this one, as long as we don’t get carried away and expect him to become the beast we all expected him to early in his career. There’s no reason why he can’t be a gritty scoring winger a la a Chris Higgins type.

    • J.D. Burke

      That could work, but I’m more inclined to see him playing with Kesler. The thing is, even an idiot like “Botched Another One” can appreciate the way he was driving play. Whether he was scoring or not, he dominated possession and carried his linemates for the most part.

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