Only one day after The Province spun a globe and landed on the state of Florida as a potential trade partner, Mike Gillis has partially taken their advice, sending Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm to the Florida Panthers in exchange for winger David Booth, centre Steven Reinprecht, and the third round pick the Canucks originally gave to Florida to get Chris Higgins.
You heard that right. The Canucks have moved their two least impressive forwards so far this season for the elusive power forward for Ryan Kesler’s wing. That’s like trading a bottle of glue for a unicorn.
This one came out of nowhere. Not since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln has a Booth arrived so unexpectedly.
David Booth, 26, is the prized piece here. At 6’0″, he’s not overly tall, but he’s a solid 212 lbs (almost identical measurements to the very thick Raffi Torres). Booth plays a power forward’s game, too; he’s strong on his skates and he likes to hit. He also likes to score. In 309 career games with Florida, he recorded 167 points. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored 31 goals and 29 assists.
There are some concerns, of course. Booth was a team-worst minus-31 last season for the Panthers. Granted, pretty much everyone on the Panthers finished in the minuses — being sucky will do that to you — but when you’re the worst of the worst, something’s the matter. Expect Booth to struggle in the early going as he adjusts to the Canucks’ defensively-focused system. Playing with the reigning Selke winner in Ryan Kesler will certainly help, but we’ve seen, with the recent additions of Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich, that it often takes ex-Panthers a little while to unlearn poor habits.
Still, defense can be taught. Booth’s high-end offensive skill, on the other hand, cannot be. He’s a solid addition, finally putting an end to Ryan Kesler’s helicopter line.
At least one hopes, especially with that contract. Like Keith Ballard, Booth arrives from The Sunshine State with a pretty hefty price tag: the Canucks will be paying him $4.25 million a season through 2014-15. Provided he works out, no one will mind, but if past experience is any indication, Canuck fans don’t have much patience for overpaid acquisitions from Florida.
As for Steven Reinprecht, the Canucks have already said that he’s on his way to the Chicago Wolves, and his $2 million price tag is too much for the team to risk eating half of on recall waivers, but don’t think he was just a throw-in. Yes, the Panthers were trying to dump the salary (that’s pretty much all this trade was in its entirety for them), but the Canucks will be more than glad to have a veteran centre just waiting in the minors in case one of Maxim Lapierre or Manny Malhotra goes down just before the playoffs, like last season.
The third-round pick matters as well. By getting it back, the Canucks are now in a position to tender offer sheets, if they so choose. Mike Gillis has proven in the past that he doesn’t care much for the unspoken agreement between GMs not to do that.
As for the guys on the way out, one will be missed and one won’t. We didn’t have much time to get to know Marco Sturm and he wasn’t all that good while he was here, so his departure won’t bother many. Here’s hoping he finds his legs in Florida, however. He’s clearly not ready to pack it in, and he’ll likely be given a bit more room there to refind his game. If he doesn’t, Florida is a sweet place to retire.
As for Mikael Samuelsson, parting is such sweet sorrow. He’s been problematic at even-strength, much-maligned as a powerplay quarterback (unfairly, if you ask me) and he’s slowly lost footspeed over his last two seasons, but his dadness, his awkward goal celebrations, and his brutal honesty will be sorely missed. Although we can still look forward to Samuelsson telling the Florida media that the Canucks can go [forget] themselves.
Samuelsson leaves a few interesting holes in the lineup. If this afternoon’s game is any indication, his spot on the Canucks’ top powerplay unit will be ably filled by Sami Salo, a solution that will likely add some shootiness to a group often prone to over-passing. He also leaves the door open for someone else — say, Dale Weise — to be Alex Burrows’ post-penalty kill replacement on the top line with the Sedins.
There are other small shockwaves that this trade sends through the lineup. Clearly, Ryan Kesler’s other linemate is going to be reconsidered as well. Cody Hodgson was benched in the third period of tonight’s game; does he get another chance there? If not, does Chris Higgins, forming an All-American trio? Will Mark Spector cut the Canucks some slack if they have a line like that? No Danes and Swedes here, pal.
If Higgins presses Hodgson out, does this mean the return of Cody’s dark times? I don’t think so. It looks like it will take him a little more time to learn the wing than everyone thought, though, and I’m sure the Canucks would rather those growing pains happen on the third line than the second. Expect him to line up with Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen going forward.
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