Saturday, October 22, 2011

Canucks Rob Panthers Obtaining David Booth, Reinprecht For Samuelsson, Sturm

The Florida Panthers have been the most active team in the NHL since the trade deadline last year and that continued today with a potentially significant trade with the Vancouver Canucks.  Florida deal forward David Booth, center Steve Reinprecht and a 2013 third round pick to the Canucks for forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.
The new-look Panthers have been solid to start the season which makes the selling low of former cornerstone Booth even more surprising.  Booth has yet to fully return to the promising form he had before suffering a major concussion in October 2009 when Mike Richards hit him in the head.  However, in Florida Booth was counted on to play on the top line with inferior talent around him, which certainly wont be the case in Vancouver where he will likely play with Ryan Kesler on the second line. 
A team like Florida that clearly is not a contender dealing for aging veterans like Samuelsson and Strum makes it even more puzzling of a move.  Vancouver appears to be a clear winner on the surface of this deal unless Booth never returns to form, which would make the four-year, $18 mil left on his contract a gamble to take on.

Lundqvist Starting, Bell In; Woywitka, Wolski, Sauer Out

Looking for their third straight win the New York Rangers are tinkering with their lineup inserting Brendan Bell on defense and scratching Jeff Woywitka.  Replacing Woywitka is not a big surprise as he struggled against Calgary, especially in the third period giving up multiple chances and taking a penalty with just 2:44 left in regulation.

One change the Rangers are not making is in net as Henrik Lundqvist will make his sixth consecutive start to open the season.  Love the way Lundqvist is playing, but Biron needs to go on Monday against Winnipeg so Lundqvist can get the rest they talked about so much last season.

Wojtek Wolski is out again, but making matters worse for him is that Tortorella referred to the winger as a "healthy scratch," so he could go but Tortorella is choosing Christensen over him. 

Michael Sauer is still day-to-day.

Mats Zuccarello Dominant Force In Season Debut For Whale

When he was demoted to the Connecticut Whale (AHL) Mats Zuccarello said that he was disappointed that he wasn’t given a shot to stick on one of the New York Rangers top lines saying he would have to prove he was worthy of that shot with his play in the minors.  Last night Zuccarello made his season debut with the Whale and certainly made his presence felt with two goals and an assist during the Whale’s 5-0 win over Manchester.

Playing with John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin, Zuccarello showed that his offensive skills are a dominant force at the AHL level.  Unfortunately for Zuccarello, despite their offensive woes, there does not appear to be a natural fit for him on the Rangers top three offensive lines.  Until there becomes an opening at a skill spot in the lineup or Zuccarello gets traded it will be the Whale that benefits from the 23-year-old winger’s skill level. 

The biggest beneficiary might be linemate Carl Hagelin who like Zuccarello is trying to prove he is NHL ready, but the fact that Hagelin has a better mix of skill, grit and penalty killing ability make him a better fit for the Rangers identity.  For those who want Hagelin now however, he would be just as wasted on the fourth line as Zuccarello was and is better off playing huge minutes in the AHL and developing.