After missing four games with a groin injury, David Booth is expected to return to the ice sometime in the next week. It won’t be for the Canucks, however, as he has been sent to the Utica Comets on a conditioning assignment.
That runs contrary to what Booth told the media Monday morning, saying he expected to play on the Canucks’ upcoming Pacific Division road trip. That’s likely more a reflection of his health than something he discussed with the team, however. He participated in practice, including battle drills, indicating that his groin is ready for action, which does not mean what you think it means.
I’ve seen some Canucks fans taht are so frustrated by his lack of offensive production that they openly hope his move to Utica is a permanent one, which is a little ridiculous. The issue with Booth is not whether he can contribute to the lineup, but whether he can live up to the expectations created by his contract and past performance.
His 3 points in 11 games is simply not enough and his declining shot totals are also a concern, but he’s still a better player than Jeremy Welsh, Darren Archibald, Yannick Weber, and Tom Sestito. The Canucks don’t just want a competent third-line forward out of Booth: they want a top-six winger who can drive play and create space for his linemates with his footspeed and physical play. The speed and physicality just haven’t been there consistently enough.
John Tortorella knows that Booth has more to offer, saying “I’ve seen David play … I know what he has in there. We certainly want to try to get to that as quickly as possible and health’s a big part of it. We’re going to try to go through the right steps and right process to try to get him back as a player because he’s a really good player.”
With that in mind, Booth’s conditioning assignment may be less about getting back up to speed in regards to his health, but getting back up to speed in regards to his confidence. Booth certainly should be able to score at the AHL level and the Utica Comets could use his help, too, as they still have yet to earn a single win through 8 games. A little north-south possession driving by Booth could do wonders for both him and the Comets.
Booth is the second Canuck to get sent to Utica on a conditioning assignment, with Zac Dalpe getting assigned to the Comets two weeks ago. The limit on a conditioning stint is 14 days and Dalpe was recalled by the Canucks on Saturday, giving them another forward option for the coming road trip. He had 3 assists in 6 games with the Comets.
Alex Burrows notably did not have a conditioning stint after missing games due to injury, returning to the lineup before even participating in a full practice with the team. He has yet to pick up a point through 4 games, though he is still driving puck possession effectively and was especially effective against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
That Booth is in a category with Dalpe instead of Burrows has to be considered disappointing. He will be eligible to stay in the AHL until November 18th, after the Canucks’ road trip is finished. The Comets will have six games in that time.Tags: david booth, Utica Comets