FanPost

Trying to improve the middle six

We are about to reach the half-way point in the season and thanks to the mediocre Metropolitan division the Devils still have playoff hopes despite their inability to consistently be an above .500 hockey team.

When looking for ways to improve the team the obvious weakness is the offense. The Devils are currently 9th with a 2.40 GA/G and the defense been allowing a league low 25.0 SA/G. The glaring stats are the 24th ranked 2.38 G/G and the dead last 25.2 S/G. (Stats from NHL.com) We knew it was going to be a problem over the summer. We knew it was a problem in early December. The injury to Damien Brunner isn't going to help. He is gone for at least a month. Even though he was in and out of the lineup sometimes, he had the second highest shot rate for the team. I think many would agree that promoting Gionta into a scoring role isn't going to help either. Another injury to the top nine could really force some players into different roles.

Looking at the Devils current lineup I think the case could be made for trying to acquire a middle six winger. I enjoy wild trade speculation just as much as the next armchair GM, but I'm sorry to say you won't find names like Evander Kane, Max Pacioretty or Nail Yakupov. Those would be notable players to receive, but I don't see how the Devils have the assets to make that happen. Instead the assets the Devils could part with without sacrificing the future would get you someone another team really could do without, see also: Poni, D'Agostini and Sullivan in the recent past.

That player is ....David Booth. Booth has had a rough two seasons in Vancouver. Injuries have set him back and he has only been on the ice over 14 minutes four times in the month of December. If not for an ankle injury last season and the injury lasting into the summer the Canucks might have used a compliance buyout on him this past summer. Booth spent some of his best seasons with DeBoer in Florida with Booth saying "I personally love playing for him" and DeBoer calling Booth a "borderline superstar".

Here are some stats to where Booth compares to some of the Devils current middle six forwards. Stats as of morning of 12/31. S/G via NHL.com all other stats via extra skater. Some David Booth Highlights via NHL.com

Player

GP

P

S/G

TOI/60

CF%

CF% rel

O/DSt%

Booth

29

10

1.8

13.1

49.9%

-1.0%

45.9%

Brunner

32

13

2.2

13.5

55.4

0.2%

62.1%

Ryder

40

18

1.7

15.7

53.2%

-1.1%

52.9%

Bernier

40

8

1.7

13.7

54.7%

1%

52.6%

Henrique

40

16

1.6

17.5

52.5%

-2.0%

52.6%

Part of the reason for Booth's poor Corsi numbers might have to do with his typical line mates. He has usually played with Zack Kassian (-3.0 CF% Rel) and Brad Richardson (-9.6 CF% Rel). I would like to think that perhaps playing with the likes of Elias could help him. Also notable is the lack of offensive zone starts Booth receives.

Booth certainly isn't a cure for what the Devils need, but it appears he might be able to fit in nicely. It's also what they might be able to afford in a trade given that they don't have many young prospects and they shouldn't be dealing away the ones they have now. What they do have is a surplus of defensemen that need to go somewhere soon with Larsson coming back. It's also gotten to the point where our lack of offensive depth and surplus of defensemen has the coaching staff thinking about using a defenseman as a winger. This is where Vancouver makes a nice trade partner.

Injuries to Alex Edler, Ryan Stanton and now Andrew Alberts currently have Yannick Weber and call-up Frank Corrado in the top six. Torts is again leaning very heavily on his top defensemen while the bottom two are playing very low minutes. The Canucks have gotten by just fine without Edler, going 7-1-2 in their last ten games and even before he got injured Edler wasn't making friends with his new coach. Also, Vancouver may have explored trading Edler during the offseason. Vancouver could flip Edler when he returns from injury and probably get a nice return while getting out from that contract.

Would Torts like a shot blocking defenseman like Salvador to help his blue line for the playoffs? If Vancouver were willing to eat $500k of Booth's salary, then the salaries would just about equal out. Vancouver would still actually save $500k which couldn't hurt their cap situation, while the Devils would pay about an extra $500k, but the Devils can afford it. Both have another year left on their contracts and given the Devils will have a majority of their top nine returning having Booth for another year at $3.75M probably isn't the worst given the UFA class this summer. Remember somebody paid David Clarkson a crazy amount of money with a falling cap, what do you think is going to happen when cap goes up almost $7M?

Salvador could also provide some relief if Edler was eventually traded. If Vancouver doesn't like Salvador at the end of the season then they could use the compliance buyout pegged for Booth on him. There are even some Devils fans that believe Salvador or Volchenkov might be compliance buyout candidates for the Devils, so if Salvador isn't in the plans for the future, why not try to get some offensive help?

At the end of the day I think most Devils fans agree that a defensemen should be moved out in the short term and in the long term for some offensive help. Booth isn't a cure, but should help given what we would send out in return. Salvador was once traded straight up for Cam Janssen, how much of a return do you expect?

So what are your thoughts on David Booth? Do you have another player you feel the Devils could realistically trade for to help their offense? Feel free to leave some of your ideas for improving the Devils middle six below.

All FanPosts and FanShots are the respective work of the author and not representative of the writers or other users of In Lou We Trust.

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