20. David Booth
Booth was a 6' left winger from Detroit. He went to college at the University of Michigan, playing four seasons of collegiate hockey with the Spartans. He gained notice by professional scouts by putting up 25 goals and 29 assists through 69 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons. The Panthers selected him in the second round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft with the 53rd overall pick.
Instead of turning pro at the first opportunity, Booth elected to stay on with the Spartans, earning a four year degree. He scored 20 goals and 31 assists through his junior and senior seasons, a period comprising 65 contests. He scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over the Miami Redhawks, securing for Michigan State the 2006 Mason Cup.
Booth made his professional debut in 2006-07 with the Rochester Americans (25 games, seven goals, seven assists). He made his first appearance in a Panthers sweater on November 20, going scoreless in a 3-2 Panthers win over the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately for Booth, he was judged not quite ready for the big time, and was sent back to Rochester after going scoreless in his first four games. He didn't suffer long, though, earning a permanent call up on December 12. He scored his first NHL point, an assist, in a 5-4 losing effort to the Anaheim Ducks. He scored his first NHL goal on January 4 against the Calgary Flames, in another 5-4 Panthers loss. He collected a season high two assists in an 8-5 win over the New York Islanders on March 17. Overall, Booth totalled three goals on 86 shots, averaging 9:34 TOI through 48 NHL contests that season. He also made seven assists and ended the season with a respectable even rating.
2007-08 would see Booth start his first full NHL season slow, going scoreless through his first six games. On November 12th and 13th, he made a goal and an assist in consecutive games, a 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and a 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. He totalled 73 games for Florida, averaging 16:10 TOI. Booth ranked third on the Panthers with 22 goals on 228 shots, also collecting 18 assists to finish fourth on the team with 40 total points. He totalled a plus-13 rating and led the Panthers with six game winning goals.
In 2008-09, Booth opened the season with a goal and an assist in a 6-4 loss to the Hurricanes on October 10. The next night he tallied his first career two goal game, in a 3-2 win over the Thrashers. On November 9th, he collected his first career hat trick with all three Panthers goals in a 3-1 victory over the Ducks. On December 27th, he scored two goals and an assist in a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He went on to score in the next seven games for a career best eight game point streak (six goals, seven assists). On March 7th, he tallied his second hat trick of the season, also collecting an assist in a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Later in the season, he put up two goals and three assists for a career high five points in a season closing 7-4 win over the Washington Capitals. In total, Booth led the Panthers with a career best 31 goals on 246 shots, pitching in 29 assists for a team second best 60 points. He ranked third on the team with a plus-10 rating and shared the team lead with five game winning goals. He played in 72 games total, averaging 17:05 TOI. Booth also led the team with 15 multi-point games.
2009-10 would start with Booth scoring twice with an assist through his first nine games. On October 24, in a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, he sustained a concussion when he collided with Mike Richards. According to wikipedia.org:
Skating up to the Flyers' blueline, Booth had shot the puck into the offensive zone when Richards hit him in the head with his shoulder. Rendered unconscious, Booth was taken off the ice on a stretcher and brought to a Philadelphia hospital. In addition to his concussion, he sustained a cut above one eye that required stitches; he was released from hospital the next day. While Richards received a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct for intent to injure, he was not suspended for the play. The decision not to further penalize Richards proved to be a highly contentious issue. Panthers general manager Randy Sexton and defenceman Keith Ballard voiced their opinion that Richards' hit was directed at the head while knowing Booth was in a vulnerable position, warranting a suspension. The Flyers captain expressed concern for Booth's health both in the media and to Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer personally, but asserted that he was not intending to hurt him. Another concern was the timing of Richards' hit, as Booth had already release the puck. In response, NHL vice president Bill Daly explained that the hit was not late enough to justify a suspension.
On January 31st, with the crowd chanting his name, Booth returned to the Panthers lineup in a 2-0 shutout victory at home over the New York Islanders. He earned an assist in the victory. The next time the Panthers played the Flyers, Booth totalled a goal and three assists, along with a five minute fighting major (against Richards) in a 7-4 Panthers victory. Unfortunately, Booth sustained a second concussion against the Montreal Canadiens on March 25 as the Panthers suffered a 4-1 defeat. He totalled 28 games on the season, averaging 18:08 TOI and scoring eight goals on 95 shots along with eight assists.
Due to his multiple concussions, there were questions about Booth's durability preceding the 2010-11 season. He answered that by playing in all 82 games, one of four Panthers to accomplish the feat. On October 16, he scored two goals and an assist in a 6-0 whitewashing of the Lightning. It was his only three point game of the season, and one of five where he totalled more than one point. He led the Panthers with 23 goals on 280 shots, collecting 17 assists to finish third on the club with 40 points. His minus-31 rating was easily the worst on the team.
2011-12 would see the season open with mostly new faces in every position. Booth was one of only seven Panthers (Booth, Garrison, Weiss, Clemmensen, Kulikov, Weaver, Matthias) to open the last two seasons with the club. He would not last for long. He went minus-6 in his first six games of the season with one assist while going scoreless in 14 shots on net. In what may have been a statement to the effect of "SEE RED," Tallon traded him to the Vancouver Canucks on October 22 with Steven Reinprecht and a third round pick in the 2013 draft for Mikael Samuelsson (now a Red Wing) and Marco Sturm (may be back, maybe not).
As a Panther, Booth was known as a guy who never shied away from a hit. He skated the hard minutes for Florida, always flying down the ice after a loose puck or a scoring chance. His drive was never questioned, and he played both wings equally well. The jury is still out on the trade that sent Booth to the Canucks, but with both of the involved principals gone from the Panthers, it seems unlikely that we'll look back on this one with fondness for much longer, Sammy's power play expertise notwithstanding. Booth is currently entering the fourth season of a 6-year, $25,500,000 contract with Vancouver as a second/third line winger.
See the video for all the David Booth highlights you could possibly need.
David Booth Highlights (via MAKAVELI719696)
All-Time Statline: Six seasons, 309 games, 87 goals (10th Panthers all-time), 80 assists, 167 points, minus-17 rating, 127 penalty minutes, 16.9 APS.