VANCOUVER -- David Booth skated with his Vancouver Canucks teammates during informal practices late last week, so it surprised some to hear new coach John Tortorella say Wednesday that the power forward still hadn't been cleared medically to start training camp.
"Day to day," Tortorella said, jumping in on a question directed toward general manager Mike Gillis sitting next to him before both said it wasn't a surprise to them that Booth isn't ready. "We want to try and keep him healthy, so we want to be careful here."
Booth injured his groin during on-ice fitness testing last season and missed the first month of the season. He returned and scored one empty-net goal in 12 games before badly spraining his ankle in an awkward fall March 16, an injury that required surgery six days later.
Gillis said he has an expected timeline for Booth's return, but wouldn't share it.
"David suffered a very serious injury last year," Gillis said. "It's training camp. With a player of his stature and experience, you don't need to push him into a situation where he is not going to be ready and risk something else. … I'm sure you'll see him soon."
What they see from Booth could play a big role in the Canucks' fortunes this season.
Acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers early in the 2011-12 season, Booth, 28, has made more headlines for Twitter pictures of his offseason hunting habits than he has on the ice, scoring 17 goals in 68 games in parts of two seasons since joining the Canucks. A big, powerful forward who isn't afraid to take the puck to the net, Booth should be able to provide some of the bite and grit Tortorella is asking for more of from his new team, but with another two seasons left on a contract with a $4.25-million salary cap hit, he's been mentioned just as often as a possible buyout candidate in Vancouver.
"Like a lot of players he's going to have to earn his spot on this team," Gillis said. "We've seen it in the past, and I'm confident he can do it again and I'm confident he can do it consistently."