David Booth expected back in Canucks lineup after 'positive' experience in Utica

David Booth spoke highly of his brief time with the Utica Comets. John Tortorella spoke highly of David Booth for agreeing to go to Utica.

Now the wait begins to see if this recent assignment translates into success for Booth, who has endured his share of struggles with the Canucks.

Nine days ago, the Canucks dispatched the oft-injured Booth to their American Hockey League affiliate in upstate New York for a three-game conditioning stint, shortly before hopping on a plane to begin their own four-game road trip.

In three games with the Comets, Booth recorded one assist and six shots on goal.

“I had a good time down there. It was fun playing a lot,” said Booth after Wednesday’s practice.

“You don’t really think the game, you just kind of go out and play. That’s something I haven’t done in a long time and so, surprisingly, that was a lot of fun playing those minutes, being with (the) guys, having their first win, so I think there was nothing but positive.”

Booth is expected back in Vancouver’s lineup Thursday, when the Canucks host the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena in the first of a six-game home stand.

He skated on a line with Brad Richardson and Zack Kassian on Wednesday.

As repetitive as this may be to say, Booth has battled injuries throughout his time with the Canucks. Injuries of the knee, groin and ankle variety have all disrupted his ability to play a steady, productive role on this team.

His offensive output has been insignificant. Just two goals in the last 23 games he’s played, dating back to the 2013 lockout-shortened season. Hard numbers to swallow considering he comes with a cap hit of $4.25 million per season.

Coming off a suspected groin ailment suffered in New Jersey on Oct. 24, the 28-year-old Booth had to agree to the assignment to Utica. He gained praise from Tortorella, the Canucks bench boss, for doing that.

“Honestly, I thought it was a great idea. I wanted to go play over 20 minutes versus 10, 12,” said Booth.

“It just makes such a difference in how you feel on the ice, your confidence, your momentum throughout the game.

“This is the best I’ve felt all year for sure. Playing game scenarios, getting in game shape, you do that when you’re playing those kind of minutes. It’s so tough to try to stay fresh when you’re playing 10, your legs just kind of sit there.”

But will this be of benefit to both he and the Vancouver Canucks? The first wave of results should come Thursday.

“It shows me and the organization that he wants to get better,” said Tortorella.

“He just hasn’t played and I think he needs reps and he got reps down there. We got some good reports. I just want him to let himself go and play because he’s a pretty good player. He’s a really good player when he’s on so hopefully that will help him.”

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