For the month of August, Editor In Leaf will take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, previewing what could happen in the 2014-15 NHL season. Next up is veteran left winger and reclamation project David Booth.
Position: Left Wing
Years With Leafs: Zero
David Booth is the latest Vancouver Canucks forward castoff to join the Toronto Maple Leafs. After Mason Raymond turned into one of the biggest free-agent steals from last offseason (19 goals and 45 points after signing for one year and $1-million), the Leafs replaced him with Booth on a one-year deal worth $1.1-million.
The Canucks acquired Booth in a trade with the Florida Panthers in hopes the one-time 30-goal scorer (in 2008-09) could mesh with fellow Michigan native Ryan Kesler to give them a bona fide second scoring line to complement the Sedins. After putting up a decent 16 goals and 29 points in 56 games in his first season with the Canucks, Booth wasn’t able to replicate that success the next two seasons.
Big Question: Can Booth stay healthy?
Booth’s struggles were summarized well in this Jason Botchford column from the Vancouver Province:
Booth wasn’t awful his first year in Vancouver. Things looked promising early too, before Porter jetted out his knee and sprained Booth’s MCL. He was on a 10-points-in-12-games run playing mostly with Kesler and Higgins on the short-lived “Amex Line.”
He ended that season with 16 goals in 56 games with the Canucks, a 21-goal pace, which is not bad.
But that was as good as it ever got for Booth here.
The Porter injury will remain the most memorable, but it was his ankle injury that proved the most damaging.
Not only did it end Booth’s 2013 season in March, it ensured the Canucks couldn’t buy him out last summer.
When he showed up in the fall, he still wasn’t right. He looked nothing like the power forward the Canucks thought they were getting two years earlier. He was slow. He was losing battles on the wall, and he was not a favourite of John Tortorella, who labelled him “a weird dude” in the first week of the season.
That led to Booth being bought out after the season. Now he’ll have to prove that he can score again at the NHL level to get anything close to the three years and $9-million Raymond received from the Calgary Flames.
As Botchford wrote, Booth excelled in a bottom-six role on the Canucks with Brad Richardson as his centre. If he can provide that same skillset on the Leafs’ third or fourth line, he’s going to do just fine.