Florida Panther fans were in a state of shock when David Booth, who spent his first 5 years in the NHL with the Panthers, was traded to the Vancouver Canucks less than 1 month into the 2011-2012 season. It was hard to picture Booth in anything other than a Panther jersey. Unfortunately he had to leave so quickly to report to his new team that he only had time to write a farewell note to his teammates on a whiteboard, as he was told of the trade before the start of a game against the New York Islanders. I’m sure it’s hardly the way Booth would have chosen to bid farewell, but its times like these that we realize that hockey is a business. Booth seemed truly shocked and saddened by the news of his trade as a lot of Panther fans did.
Booth had suffered a concussion in 2009 after being hit by Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers, which clouded him for quite a while. It still affected his play in the 2010-2011 season and he ended the season a minus 31. This was thought to be one of the main reasons for the trade. He was often seen taking shots from far away and not getting to the net with the puck, avoiding traffic. Dale Tallon realized he had to show the players he was willing to trade anyone, even a Panther veteran like Booth, if they weren’t performing at the level he wanted. Booth, a fan favorite, paid the price and the rest of the team took notice responding that night with a 4-2 victory over the Islanders.
The Panthers picked up both Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson in the trade for Booth from Vancouver. Samuelsson didn’t play his first game as a Panther until December 8th because of a groin injury that he suffered during the playoffs the last year with the Canucks. Since returning from the injury Samuelsson has been a tremendous help to the Panthers. He has 8 goals and 10 assists on the season, and has played consistently well. Frequently used in shootouts, he, like the rest of the team has been rather inconsistent. However he did score a crucial goal in a shootout that led the Panthers to a vital win against division rival Winnipeg on January 21st. His goals have always come at what seem like the most opportune times. Yes, I think the Panthers expected him to score more then he has, however he also brings playoff experience. In those playoff games, he has scored a six game winning goals as well, therefore I think he will be a tremendous help in the playoffs assuming the Panthers get in.
Marco Sturm started the season slow with 2 goals and 1 assist in 27 games. On December 20th, he was struck in the head with a puck while sitting on the bench of all places and suffered a concussion which sidelined him for quite a while. He finally came back on February 1st however after playing in only 1 game he was out again with a minor knee injury. It was announced he had received knee surgery and did not come back till March 1st. It has been a tough year for Sturm as it seems he has been injured or scratched most of the season. I do think the Panthers were expecting a lot more from Sturm and despite his injuries which partly explain his lack of production, I don’t think he’ll be in Panther uniform next year.
Booth had a knee on knee collision this year in Vancouver which sidelined him for 5 weeks where he missed playing at Bank Atlantic Center for the first time as a Canuck. However I think he has performed well with Vancouver overall. He has 13 goals and 12 assists so far this season, and seems to be fitting in well with the Canucks. The organization also seems very invested in him. As a David Booth fan, I am happy he is doing well and with a team that appreciates him.
So the question: 5 months later was the trade worth it? It’s hard to say. The Panthers inherited both Sturm and Samuelsson for roughly the same salary they were paying Booth alone. Both Sturm and Samuelsson are unrestricted free agents next year, and who knows if the Panthers will keep them or not. If they don’t keep them that frees up a little over $4 million in cap space to go after a goal scorer or use some of those dollars to resign a strong player like Kris Versteeg.
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