Panthers general manager Dale Tallon wanted to ditch a big, long-term contract commitment and give his team an early jolt.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis sought to get younger and quicker while adding another proven scorer to his already explosive offense. So the two men worked out a semi-blockbuster.
The Panthers sent left wing David Booth, center Steve Reinprecht and a third-round pick in 2013 to the Canucks on Saturday in exchange for veteran forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.
Samuelsson and Sturm are in the final years of their contract. Both should bolster the Florida supporting cast for the rest of this season as the Panthers try to get back into the playoff hunt.
“Samuelsson won a Cup in Detroit and is coming off back-to-back 50-point seasons,” Tallon said. “He's a real useful player. He can play the point on the power play and has size and a big shot that we sorely need. Sturm gives us a player that can kill penalties. He's scored 20 or more goals seven times in his career, and it just gives us more options and more depth in the organization.”
Booth, who makes $4.25 million per season, has three additional years left on his contract. He is a former 31-goal scorer who has seeming made a full recovery from post-concussion syndrome that limited him to 28 games (and 16 points) in 2009-10.
Last season he played all 82 games last season, scoring 23 goals and adding 40 assists. He took a career-high 280 shots but converted on just 8.2 percent, down from 12.6 percent in 2008-09. That volume suggests that a return to 30 goals is quite doable in the right environment.
That’s the good news. The bad news: Booth recorded a minus-31 rating last season and was minus-6 thus far this season, with just one assist.
Separated from long-time running mate Stephen Weiss, Booth appeared lost this season in the revamped Florida lineup. In Vancouver he figures to find himself playing with old junior hockey running mate Ryan Kesler.
“Ryan knows him very well,” Gillis told reporters. “He's scored over 30 goals in the league before and he's 26 years old. We think if we can get him here and get him moving in the right direction he'll embrace it.”
Gillis is confident that Booth’s concussion problems are behind him. He sees him as a speedy finisher just entering his athletic prime.
Reinprecht, 35, does not share that distinction. The veteran center was just a throw-in on this deal. He didn’t make Florida’s roster during training camp. He cleared waivers and went to San Antonio of the AHL.
Gillis agreed to eat Reinprecht’s contract to land Booth. All in all it was a interesting gamble for a Stanley Cup contender to take.
If it works, it could work big. But is Booth never regains his 30-goal touch, the Canucks could live to regret taking on his contract.