David Booth’s rehab from an ankle injury has been a tough and frustrating one, but the 28-year-old Canucks winger took a step forward this morning in Vancouver when he practiced with teammates (he skated with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows) for the first time this preseason.
“It was quite the feeling,” said Booth, per the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap. “I mean, it’s been a while since I skated with them.”
He added: “I think my goal all along was to be ready for the regular season.”
If, however, Booth’s absence extends beyond the start of the regular season (Oct. 3, for Vancouver), the Canucks have a couple of kids who could possibly see time on the second line until he gets back. Hunter Shinkaruk is one candidate, as is Nicklas Jensen.
A former 31-goal-scorer in Florida, Booth has two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $4.25 million. In 68 games with Vancouver, he has 17 goals and 15 assists — not terrible production, but the Canucks would love to get more from him.
“He killed us in Florida when I was in Tampa,” said head coach John Tortorella, per The Province. “He can be an asset in how we want to play on the puck. He could be a really good player, but the question is health and it’s out of my control. If he can stay healthy, it slots people in different spots. We get a good player like that in the lineup and it really helps us.”
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The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.
The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)
It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.
Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.
Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.