Leafs at the World Juniors: David Booth, 2004

David Booth hasn’t seen a whole lot of action with the Maple Leafs this season, averaging around ten minutes of ice time per night in eight games so far this year.

But ten years ago (soon to be eleven), the nine-year NHL veteran suited up for the 2004 American World Junior squad, which culiminated in a historic gold medal victory in Helsinki. 

The Stats:

Booth contributed a goal and an assist in six games for the team. Not exactly eye-popping numbers, but still a solid effort from the then-19 year-old. Booth’s assist came on the game winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Finland in the semi-finals, with his goal also being a “game-winner”, albeit in a 5-0 rout of Slovakia in the round robin.

The Results: 

For the second straight year, Canada lost a one-goal heartbreaker to a close rival, but this time fell to the United States after losing to Russia the year prior.

Marc-Andre Fleury’s third period gaffe ended up being the game-winning goal, which was the USA’s first-ever gold medal at the World Juniors. The game ended 4-3 in favour of the Americans.

10 years later, Fleury would mess up a similar late game situation in an extremely poor effort to play the puck, in the first round of the 2014 playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say he’s not exactly the greatest puck handler. 

Key Teammates:

Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler, and Ryan Suter were Booth’s three most notable teammates, with all three being staples of USA Hockey today. Parise was the key, winning tournament MVP with 11 points in the 6 games he played.  Drew Stafford, Patrick Eaves, Matt Carle and James Wisniewski also have all managed to remain in the NHL until today.

As well, Booth’s teammate Steve Werner basically epitimozed “hot streak.” In six games, Werner scored five goals on just 12 shots. Never heard of Werner? The 3rd round Capitals pick never cracked an NHL lineup, toiling around in the AHL and ECHL before starting playing in Germany and Austria. 

The scouts’ take:

Oddly, David Booth’s performance may have actually led to his drafting, which was quite rare considering he was 19 at the time. Booth was taken 53rd overall by Florida in 2004 following the tournament, but in his second year of draft eligibility. Playing at Michigan State University, Booth posted 36 points in 39 games in his rookie year, before regressing to 18 in 30 games the following year. Whatever the case, at some point along the line, Booth was impressive enough to warrant a second-round pick. Booth’s just a hair under half a point per game at a 0.49 average through 451 contests, but a slew of injuries have often slowed the three-time 20 goal scorer. However,  if it wasn’t for the World Juniors, Booth may not have had enough exposure to translate into his NHL gig today.

ICYMI, check out yesterday’s piece on Joffrey Lupul’s time on the Canadian Junior team in 2003. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at Dion Phaneuf’s 2004 and 2005 tournaments, where he shone as one of the most electric players in recent Team Canada junior history.