Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 10/25/11

Patrick Powell
Salary Cap Analyst 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File: David_Booth.jpg

As NHLHS’s Bill Whitehead reported on Saturday, the first major trade of the 2011-2012 occurred where the Florida Panthers dealt left wing David Booth, minor leaguer Steven Reinprecht, and a 2013 third round draft pick to the Vancouver Canucksfor veteran forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.

In analyzing this deal , the proverbial “elephant in the room” is the disparity in age and potential upside of the players involved. Booth is 26, Reinprecht is 35, Samuelsson is 34, and Sturm is 33. The latter two seem on the downsides of their respective careers whereas Reinprecht, who has probably peaked as well, will remain dead weight in the AHL. Booth clearly has the highest potential of any player in the deal, but he arguably also carries the greatest health risk due to his 54 game campaign in 2009-2010 after suffering multiple concussions.

Reinprecht had been playing in the AHL, and recently reported to Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. As a result, his full season cap hit of $2.05 million will not adversely affect the Canucks, who are now within $87,000 of the cap. Booth carries a full year cap hit of $4.25 million versus $2.5 million for Samuelsson and $2.25 million for Sturm.

The Panthers still have over $9 million in salary cap space, and they now have the maximum of 23 players on their active roster. GM Dale Tallon added experience to a young roster with this move but moreover cleared future cap space. He was not afraid to make a move that sends away potential in return for flexibility, which begs the question: Will we see more deals like this?

Booth is currently signed through 2015 as he previously committed himself to the Panthers just one season before Tallon took over the team. He was traded before his production severely dropped off, which makes the deal somewhat unique. A similar deal in length, like Shawn Horcoff‘s pact with the Edmonton Oilers, certainly would not relate since the pivot lost most of his trade value when he signed his new deal. The same should be said for Scott Gomez, whose contract extends through 2014 but is already the most discussed topic in Montreal.

A similar deal to the Booth trade could be the Calgary Flames moving players like Curtis Glencross, Rene Bourque or less likely Olli Jokinen, David Moss and Niklas Hagman. GM Jay Feaster would be willing to sacrifice potential (let’s face it outside of Roman Horak, Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie there are no young options) for added salary flexibility for the future. Building around their younger players looks like the right way to go as the front office in Calgary finally understands cap efficiency.

Another interesting option is left wing Blake Comeau, who may have permanently found coach Jack Capuano’s doghouse. The former 47th overall pick scored more than Booth last season and as Chris Botta of The New York Times hinted, via Twitter, Comeau’s value is severely decreasing with decreased playing time. This scenario may perfectly mirror that of Booth’s as Comeau could help a contender in need of secondary scoring while preventing GM Garth Snow from investing further resources on a depreciating asset down the line.

The next option for another blockbuster could involve the currently held out Kyle Turris. We know he wants to be traded and GM Don Maloney may be forced to trade him at below his market value in order to get some usable assets for him this season. Furthermore, his subtraction would clear salary cap space for the future as the team would not have to pay him in excess of $4 million this year and likely more down the road — especially when considering his unproven talents.

Then again, the Panthers and Canucks could hook up once more. In fact, one would be foolish to rule out Mikael Samuelsson getting sent back to Vancouver once healthy as he did work in coach Alain Vigneault‘s system. Of course, this trade would not be the second, or the third even between these teams in recent years.

This deal marks the second blockbuster involving these clubs but fourth transaction in recent memory. In 2006, the Canucks acquired starting goalie Roberto Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek, and sixth round draft choice (Canucks drafted Sergei Shirokov) in exchange for forward Todd Bertuzzi, goaltender Alex Auld, and defenseman Bryan Allen. Other players like Keith Ballard, Michael Grabner and Christopher Higgins have also switched jerseys over the last couple of seasons.

As Bill pointed out in his piece, Tallon sought to send a message to his young Panthers’ club with this move: you need to perform to stay. Will this message reverberate to other teams in the league? For example, the Blue Jackets (0-7-1) Sharks (3-3-0), Flames (2-4-1), Canadiens (1-4-2), and Bruins (3-5-0) have all performed below expectations in the early going. Players with these teams, particularly those earning over $4 million per season, may feel the heat from Tallon’s move. Perhaps GMs from these teams will ensure to cite David Booth as an example to demonstrate that subpar efforts will not be tolerated, and that no player is safe.

Alexander Monaghan also contributed to this article.


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