Best Panthers Player Miami 2011 - David Booth
Readers' Choice: Tomas Vokoun
Early last season, Panthers left winger David Booth was coming off the best year of his career (2009) and hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. team ahead of the 2010 Olympics. Then Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers blindsided him with a vicious hit. Instantly, Booth's dream of Olympic gold ended. He missed 45 NHL games before returning to the ice. Less than two months later, another concussion forced him to sit out the rest of the season, putting his hockey-playing future in doubt. This season's prospects for the Panthers are just as dire as the past ten. The team became the first to miss the playoffs for a decade straight. No playoffs. No prospects. Same Panthers. Except for this: Booth is back. He's among the top goal scorers on the team and is using his speed and stick-handling to whiz by defenders and re-establish himself as one of the best wingers in the NHL. Any doubts about his future and confidence vanished with one sweet move in a February shootout against J.S. Giguere of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After missing his first two shootout attempts of the year, Booth pulled out the spin-o-rama move and left Giguere clutching for air as he roofed his backhand shot. Even though a flying puck smacked Booth in the throat, which required yet another visit to the emergency room, he was back taking slap shots the next game. It seems any remaining misgivings about whether Booth is back have vanished. Now it's about whether he'll be back next year — with the Panthers.