Born: November 24, 1984 Detroit, MI
Contract: Two-way $700,000 AAV (expired)
From the moment David Booth was given a try out in camp I knew he was going to make the team. After two seasons in the KHL, Booth returned to his hometown, where he played travel and junior hockey, and not too far away from East Lansing where he had distinguished college career with MIchigan State. He hit all the checks of that Ken Holland veteran depth signing:
- Two-way forward
- ”Penalty kill specialist”
- Good Guy In The Room
- Likely end of career
- LOCAL GUY (bonus)
But to many concerned, including myself, it was a season where again the Red Wings delayed a full rebuild. Young forwards like Evgeny Svechnikov, Martin Frk, and Tyler Bertuzzi all sat in favor of Booth at some point. He was expected to come in and anchor a fourth line, demonstrate some speed, kill some penalties and maybe find that scoring touch that saw him net 31 goals for Florida in 2008-09. It was a very low risk/high reward move. On a two-way contract, the Wings had flexibility in case he wasn’t working out. More than likely, Wings brass anticipated he could be a feel good reclaimation project; a local veteran gets one last shot, proves to be a solid bottom sixer. It didn’t exactly go that way.
I truly feel your baseline for Booth’s season being deemed a success was framed by your level of cynicism. Perhaps you were in the crowd rolling your eyes that he was getting any playing time instead of younger players. That his 5 points in 28 games were merely a waste of a roster spot. He was a plug (and averaging under 7 minutes of ice time backs that up). If that’s the case you can say the experiment of bringing in Booth simply deserves a low mark. However if you put it in context of what Booth was capable of in an injury riddled career, returning to the NHL after a stint in the KHL, he performed around where he should’ve. He’s no longer an NHL player. He was given over a quarter of the season to demonstrate that he was, and hockey card stats aside, his grim possesion numbers painted a portrait of a forward who was constantly chasing the puck and rarely facilitating offense for his linemates. Booth went out there with a final opportunity to play in The Show and cap off a career of over 500 games. I feel he should be graded on a curve because in that context he really made the most of it. With his sudden reappearance at the end of the season, it was clear another player was receiving a “classy” and “loyal” favor from the Wings. Expect to see him in a scouting position soon.
Booth was another signing, albeit cheap and flexible, Holland shouldn’t have made. In order for this team to find a true direction they need to move away from this type of veteran depth signing. Darren Helm is your veteran depth now. So on this note, please no Scott Hartnell. Digressing, Booth accomplished what he set out to accomplish. In his mind that was likely 82 games and a playoff berth, but practically we know the season Booth ultimately had was much closer to expectation.
What grade would you give David Booth?
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