The Purloined Letter

Dobber Sports

2010-03-11

David Booth

 

Contrary to the letter put out on February 12 by the owners of a certain Florida franchise, I think the future (and that includes next season) is very bright for the core of this team. While change is almost always needed from year to year, “significant change” may not be.

 

Maybe the authors of “the letter” fell victim to unrealistic expectations. The team currently sits six points out of the final playoff spot in the East with 17 games remaining. Did anyone honestly expect this Panthers squad to be a lock for a playoff spot this season?  I certainly didn’t. Florida lost the final playoff spot to Montreal on a tiebreaker last season. Sure I thought they would probably be in the mix this year and I that they might be a little closer in the standings, but with arguably their two best players (Booth & Horton) missing a combined 59 games to injury and the loss of their top defenseman (Bouwmeester) for nothing HAS to cost you a few points.

 

So why the letter? Are the owners afraid of losing more of the fan base?  Average attendance is down, but only about 500 per game (15,621 vs 15,186 – yeah “paid” attendance!?).  Whatever the reasons, here is a look at their building blocks:

 

Surely one of the key players going forward has to be David Booth. The 25-year-old left winger is under contract until the end of the 2014-15 season.  Booth averages the third most overall time on ice (18:35) amongst forwards on the team, behind Horton and Weiss.  He also receives the second most average power play time (4:06) on the team. Only Bryan McCabe receives more time with the man advantage.

 

Booth has seven points in the four games since the Olympic break, but had only two points in his previous seven games (since coming back from the concussion).  It’s not like he was off to a tremendous start this season, Booth only had three points in nine games before the devastating Richards hit knocked him out for 45 games.

 

Last year, Booth had a breakout season scoring 31 goals and 60 points in 72 games. He was supposed to build on that this season. Now it looks like he will have to wait until next year.

 

Nathan Horton is only 24-years-old and when he’s in the line-up, he has been averaging 20:32 in ice time per game this season. The former third overall selection in the 2003 entry draft was scoring at a 74 point pace, but injuries have cut short what should have been another step in his development. He is scheduled to return mid-March from a broken leg.

 

Steady Stephen Weiss is 26-years-old and averages just over 20 minutes per game. His 23 goals are already a new career high and he is on pace for 29 goals and 63 points. That would better his previous best by two points. He is miscast as a number one centre, though. W