Benoit Pouliot was a low-risk, high-reward signing for the New York Rangers last offseason which proved to pay off. It might not have seemed so at first, as Pouliot got off to such a horrendous start to last season and was very close to being released by the Rangers in mid-season. However, the patience of Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault and his confidence in Pouliot not only turned his season around but also his career. Pouliot played a big part in the Rangers’ successes during the second half of last season, including the playoffs where the Rangers would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before their defeat in five games at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.
Pouliot went from almost being released in the middle of last season to the Rangers trying to get him re-signed in the offseason. But the Rangers’ success of being the Eastern Conference Champions ultimately led to Pouliot leaving this offseason as he was offered a hefty long-term contract from the Edmonton Oilers worth $20 million over five years, which Pouliot obviously accepted.
While the Rangers would have loved to sign Pouliot, there was no way he was worth the money the Oilers gave him. But now the Rangers have to find a cheaper alternative to replace Pouliot, and one player the Rangers should seriously look at is David Booth.
Booth is a 29-year-old former 30-goal scorer who is currently an unrestricted free agent. So why is he still a free agent you ask? Well, notice the key word “former” in “former 30-goal scorer.” Booth has not scored 30 goals since he had 31 with the Florida Panthers in the 2008-09 season, and unfortunately last season he was not even close to that number.
Last season was Booth’s worst in his career, playing in 66 games with only nine goals and 10 assists, but that was on a bad and dysfunctional Vancouver Canucks team. In the 2011-12 season with the Canucks however, under former Canucks and now Rangers head coach Vigneault, Booth played in 56 games and scored 16 goals while recording 13 assists, which was one more goal in 24 less games than Pouliot last season under Vigneault.
Booth is by no means a must-sign, but he is someone the Rangers should seriously look into acquiring to replace Pouliot’s production on the third line for this upcoming season.