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Maple Leafs' Booth hoping to make most of chance

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- With good health and the chance for extended ice time, two things that have eluded him in recent seasons, forward David Booth has the potential to be to the Toronto Maple Leafs this season what Mason Raymond was to them last season.

Raymond came to Toronto on a professional tryout contract, played well enough in the preseason to earn a roster spot, and then had 19 goals and 45 points in 82 games. He signed a three-year, $9.45 million contract with the Calgary Flames on July 1.

Booth already has a contract with the Maple Leafs, for one year and $1.1 million after receiving a compliance buyout from the Vancouver Canucks. However Booth is one of 17 forwards Toronto has signed to one-way contracts. General manager Dave Nonis was clear Thursday when he said there will be players on one-way contracts who do not make the final roster.

"There are no guarantees here," Booth said Friday.

While true, Booth said he's prepared to shine in training camp because he finally had a summer where he could train instead of rehabilitate.

Booth has battled injuries the past three seasons and they've cost him a total of 78 games, including 16 last season. He has missed time with injuries to his knee, ankle and groin. All of that came after multiple concussions he sustained while playing for the Florida Panthers.

"There has just been a lot that's happened," Booth said. "One year after another and you see how hard it is to come back from an injury. You look around at guys around the League, if you have an injury and you miss training camp or even the first game or two, the game is so fine-tuned that if you just miss a little bit you're going to be behind and it's always a struggle to keep up. That's why I'm excited for this year because I'm starting training camp and I just want to stay healthy through it."

Booth has played all 82 games in a season once, in 2010-11, when he had 23 goals and 40 points. That was the season after he missed 54 games because of separate concussions. He had 31 goals and 60 points in 72 games in 2008-09.

He said the challenge now that he's healthy is getting back to being the player he was in Florida.

Booth didn't really have that opportunity in Vancouver, particularly last season because his minutes were down (13:28 per game) and he didn't play much on the power play (29 seconds per game). He had nine goals and 19 points in 66 games.

There's no guarantee he'll play on the power play or get extended minutes in Toronto either, but if he stays healthy he at least has a chance to earn the same prime ice time Raymond played last season.

Raymond, who sustained a career-threatening back injury in 2011, stayed healthy last season, played 17:20 per game, including 1:58 per game on the power play, and wound up with a three-year contract in Calgary because of it.

"You prepare yourself for when the opportunity presents itself," Booth said, "and if an opportunity presents itself here, which it has by coming here, I'm going to make the most of it."


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