Using the Muscle
I’m very happy about the decision to obtain David Booth because Booth is my kind of player – he’s a great skater, he’s strong, and he shoots the puck.
That said, it isn’t clear that Booth will make the Canucks better right now. Mikael Samuelsson has been a surprisingly (to me) good player for Vancouver, and Marco Sturm finally showed some flashes of decent play in his last game against the Predators. The Canucks have given up some depth this season to get the best player in the deal. A hole on the second line has been filled, but that leaves an out of position Cody Hodgson or Andrew Ebbets on the third line, which seems to me to be less than ideal for a checking line. Still, that’s not a difficult hole to fill at the deadline if it proves to be a problem.
Still, I can’t see how the Canucks can lose the trade over the longer term. I think Booth has to be better on Vancouver than he was in Florida, and if he is, he’ll earn his money. (If Booth had been a UFA this summer would he have got a four year deal at $17 MM? Almost surely. Would that have been a good Gillis signing? You bet.)
Dale Tallon is touting the deal as a hockey trade, but I can’t see how giving up Booth helps the Panthers become a winning team. Neither Sturm or Samuelsson will help Florida beyond this year. Tallon is saving $2 MM this year (Reinprecht’s salary) and unloading another $13 MM in future salary committment. In hockey playing talent, how can a year of Sturm and Sammuelsson be worth four years of Booth? Tallon gets payroll flexibility going forward, but that ain’t worth much to him in the free agent market.
It has to be hard to be a Panther’s fan.
Mike Gillis is clearly ready to use his financial muscle to improve the team. Like the Ballard trade last year, he’s targeting good – if underperforming players on decent contacts with financially strapped teams. The Ballard trade hasn’t worked out yet – although Keith is playing a lot better this year – but I still like the strategy.