“Wait, what does that headline say?”
On Monday, Canuck nation got some bad news, as David Booth missed the second day of the abbreviated post-lockout training camp with a sore groin. Tuesday, the news regarding Booth’s groin got even more grim: not unlike an elusive Albertan mountain goat, Booth killed it. He’ll be out 4-6 weeks with a strained groin.
Thus, if you were already somewhat disillusioned to learn that Andrew Ebbett and Jordan Schroeder would be battling it out to see who centred Mason Raymond and David Booth in the absence of a rehabilitating Ryan Kesler, consider that they’re now battling to see who centres Mason Raymond and… someone.
And frankly, while Booth’s strained groin was bad news for the entire Canucks organization and their fans, I’d argue that it was especially bad for Jordan Schroeder’s chances to win that battle.
One of the reasons that the Canucks might have been comfortable handing the second-line centre job to the inexperienced Schroeder is that he would have been playing between two veterans in Booth and Raymond — veterans who have shown an ability to drive possession into the offensive zone and get back on defence, at that. They’re players that Alain Vigneault trusts to work with a rookie centre as he tries to find his bearings at the highest level.
But Booth’s injury scuttles that plan. His empty spot on the second line will go to one of Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins, and Zack Kassian, but the Canucks seem set on playing Higgins and Hansen on the third line with Maxim Lapierre. That means that Kassian will likely get the first chance on that second line, and if that’s the case, expect Vigneault to be a lot less comfortable handing the middle of the ice to a youngster when the right side of the ice features a similarly raw player. Alain Vigneault may not be the young-player-hater some claim (he doesn’t hate the player, he hates the game, defence-wise), but I doubt that he’d ice a line of two untested saplings unless he absolutely had to. Vigneault treats his young players like dogwoods; they need the shade of larger, older trees to grow.
He’s already gone on record as saying that he won’t be experimenting as much in this shortened season as in seasons past, and for Alain Vigneault, icing two rookies in his top six on opening night is akin to trying to assemble a human centipede.
That in mind, David Booth’s strained groin may signal the end of Jordan Schroeder’s bid to open the season in Vancouver. If Zack Kassian is on the second line come opening night, expect Andrew Ebbett, who has already shown the ability to drive possession in the right direction and who has NHL experience as a second-line center, to be lining up next to him.Tags: david booth, Jordan Schroeder