The Vancouver Canucks acquired winger David Booth, centre Steven Reinprecht, and a draft choice from the Florida Panthers Saturday in exchange for wingers Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.
It was the biggest trade of the young NHL season, and one filled with subplots:
1. Samuelsson was the only Canuck to have won a Stanley Cup, and even this week, the team was expressing confidence in his ability to play on the first power-play unit. He had dropped from the second-line, but he was still a top-nine forward before sitting the last two games with soreness associated with sports hernia surgery. Sturm was signed this summer with the idea that he, too, could maybe crack the top-six, and at the very least play wing on the third line. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis has rendered a quick verdict on those plans.
2. According to the Miami Herald, Booth broke down in tears and left his ex-teammates a message on their grease board. He was in the third year of a six-year pact. Until recently was among Florida’s core of young players. He had every reason to believe he was staying put, but it’s worth wondering why he was so upset to leave a perennial loser for a Cup contender?
3. If Booth pulls a Keith Ballard (struggling to adapt to a hockey market after a career spent in the Sunbelt), then the Canucks have traded two serviceable parts for a handsomely-paid underachiever. If nothing else, Gillis wasn’t gun shy about repeating a mistake. Vancouver traded winger Michael Grabner and a first-round pick for Ballard at the 2010 draft. Florida, in its infinite wisdom, allowed Grabner to escape to the New York Islanders via waivers. He had 34 goals last year.
4. The Panthers save about $2-million (all currency U.S.) in cash this year, while taking on $500,00 in cap dollars. They also liberate $13.75-million over three years starting next season. General manager Dale Tallon said he was unhappy with the performance of both Booth and the team. If Tallon didn’t believe the winger would be worth the money going forward, then the deal amounts to hitting the re-start button on a contract he inherited. For the Panthers, the financial implications of this deal make sense, especially if they are able to use their money more wisely. And who knows? Samuelsson and Sturm could help their depth and experience, lest an unlikely playoff push be in the offing.
5. Marco, we hardly knew you. At 33, and after two reconstructive knee surgeries, Sturm will get a chance to prove that he can still play in the NHL. Samuelsson turns 35 in December. Gillis said the Canucks wanted to get younger, and if the 26-year-old Booth pans out, then Vancouver has added a significant future piece.
6. Booth was acquired to be a finisher for Ryan Kesler on the second line. Both are from Detroit, and they played together in minor hockey and on the 2001-02 U.S. junior national team. Kesler is USA Hockey’s biggest booster, and he’ll revel in having a fellow American on his flank.
7. The Canucks re-acquired the 2013 third-round pick they sent to Florida in the Chris Higgins trade last March. On the same day, they traded their 2012 third-round pick to Anaheim for centre Maxim Lapierre. Gillis pledged to replace those lost assets of deadline day, and it took him seven months. The Canucks traded down, out of the second round, at the 2011 entry draft, while picking up an extra third-round choice used to select Czech goaltender David Honzik of the Victoriaville Tigres.