NHL critics rave about young talents such as Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and others, but most critics know little about the scrappy forward on the Florida Panthers named David Booth.
Booth was drafted by the Panthers in the second round (53rd overall) in the 2004 NHL draft. He was a solid player in college for Michigan State University. In his first collegiate year, Booth made the CCHA All-Rookie Team. His best collegiate year came in 2005-06, where he scored 13 goals and added 22 assists. The Panthers saw his potential and would use him sparingly in NHL games to give him more experience.
The young forward made his NHL debut on November 20, against the Boston Bruins. Booth would score his first NHL goal against Mikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames, on January 4th. The Panthers' organization gave Booth more and more playing time and he began to show his play-making abilities.
Once Booth saw more playing time, he became a legitimate scoring threat. Near the middle of the season Booth became a key component of the Panthers best scoring line. With the help of center Stephen Weiss and right winger Nathan Horton, Booth flourished and energized the whole Florida Panthers fanbase.
With the Panthers staying in the hunt for the playoffs and Booth's new found playmaking skills, more and more fans filled up the Bank Atlantic Center. Fans would scream Boooooooth, everytime he would touch the puck. The last time there was so much excitement about the Panthers was the 1996 playoff run at the old Miami Arena.
Booth finished his breakout season with 22 goals and 18 assists. His 40 points were 4th best among the Panthers players.
The Panthers will definitely be relying on Booth. This is his year to prove he deserves to be recognized along with solid young players such as Ryan Malone, Brandon Dubinsky and others.
It was definitely a year to remember for Booth, but will he build on it or rest on it?
Only at the end of the season will we find out the real truth about David Booth.