While watching the Lions game yesterday I hear a TSN Tradecentre alert go off on my phone. I wonder "Hmmm which mediocre player was traded for a mid-round pick today." Needless to say it was a little shocking to see that the Canucks had traded away Mikael Samuelsson. Even more surprising was the player they received in return.
The Canucks sent Samuelsson and Marco Sturm to Florida (yes Florida again) in exchange for F David Booth, F Steven Reinprecht and Vancouver's 3rd round pick in 2013.
It's obvious the Canucks felt they were lacking a speed element on the wing. Samuelsson was off to a very shaky start following off-season surgery and Marco Sturm was completely ineffective. Neither player had settled into the lineup and with Mason Raymond still on the shelf for the foreseeable future Gillis obviously felt the need to make a move.
Booth is only 26, but brings a hefty contract ($4.25m through 2014-15) and some concussion concerns. He has yet to regain his 2009 form which saw him score 31 goals and add 29 assists in 72 games. While he returned to play all 82 games last season there has to be some concern over the risks of another concussion. There are also reports from Florida observers that Booth no longer plays as physical as he did prior to his concussions. Last season's -31 is also troublesome, but then again Florida had only two plus forwards last season. Playing almost 19 minutes a night on a team who's 5on5 goals for/against ratio was 6th worst in the NHL isn't going to help your plus minus. Playing with Steve Bernier also doesn't help.
Those concerns aside, Vancouver fans have to be pretty excited with the acquisition of Booth. Guys in their mid 20's who have scored 30 goals aren't easy to come by. Booth has great wheels and a quick heavy shot. A lot of people consider him to be similar to Raymond. Booth is however bigger and more physical while Raymond is much better defensively. Booth has also shown that he can finish and play in the dirty areas.
Check out some highlights of Booth on NHL.com
Playing with Kesler
While Kesler and Booth have a history together, you have to wonder how they will mesh on the same line. Kesler isn't exactly a great puck distributor and is often a shoot first guy. That could have a lot to do with his past linemates not exactly being top quality players, but there has also been a lack of chemistry between Kesler and Hodgson. Booth is a guy who likes to shoot the puck a lot (he was 12th overall in shots on goal last year) so it will be interesting to see how two "shooters" play together.
It will also be interesting to see whether Chris Higgins will remain on the 2nd unit or whether Hodgson will continue to play on the right wing. Hodgson has struggled since the return of Kesler, but it's only been three games. I don't see Hodgson being demoted to Chicago, mainly because he has single handedly improved the effectiveness of the 2nd unit power play. I'd like to see him stay on the 2nd line a little longer and if that doesn't work out he could centre the third line. Manny Malhotra hasn't been very good and you have to think his days as the number 3 centre could be coming to an end. Max Lapierre has been great and Hodgson has demonstrated he's capable of holding his own at this level. If the 4th line had not shown so much chemistry Lapierre would already be the 3rd line centre. However it shakes down the Canucks have a lot of flexibility up front.
Samuelsson and Sturm
This trade has to be pretty disappointing for Samuelsson. He's going from a contender to a team in a perpetual rebuild. Chances are he will be moved to a contender at the deadline, until then he'll have to enjoy the Florida sunshine. His leadership may be missed in the dressing room, but you have to give up something to get something.
Somehow Mike Gillis got out of his $2.5m mistake by trading away Sturm. Sturm was clearly a step behind the play and didn't show many signs that he can still play at this level.
This is an awful hockey trade by Florida, but it obviously helps their bottom line. Who knows maybe they can parlay Samuelsson and Sturm into some usefull assets at the trade deadline, but if you're a Florida fan you have to be pretty disappointed that you moved a 26 year old forward and didn't receive a young asset in return. You would think there are other NHL team's out there who would have taken a chance on Booth while offering up something of more use in the long term.
The other component to the trade is Steven Reinprecht, or more accurately his $2.05m salary. At 35 Reinprecht's NHL days may be behind him, but he is only 2 years removed from a 38 point season with Florida. He's unlikely to be recalled during the season (the Canucks would not want to add a million to their cap hit should he be claimed on re-entry waivers) but he could provide some injury insurance should the Canucks need a 4th line centre in the playoffs.
It's not often you see a significant trade in October, but Mike Gillis saw an opportunity to acquire a top 6 forward without giving up a part of the core. The Canucks got younger and faster and saved a little cap room in the process. Booth carries some risks, but there's a lot of upside to this trade. The Canucks are a better team today. What's not to like?