High-priced winger Booth remains sidelined as Canucks begin training camp

VANCOUVER – High-priced winger David Booth is not ready to hit the ice at the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp.

As the Canucks opened camp with off-ice physical testing Wednesday, the veteran forward remained out with an ankle injury suffered last season. General manager Mike Gillis and coach John Tortorella described Booth’s status as day to day.

Gillis said he has an idea of when Booth will return, but declined to divulge any details.

“It’s just like any other player who has suffered that kind of injury,” said Gillis. “It’s training camp, and with a player of his stature and his experience you don’t need to push him into a situation he is not going to be ready for and risk something else.

“So it’s just regular maintenance of a player who has been injured, and I’m sure you will see him soon.”

Booth, one of Vancouver’s highest-paid players at US $4.2 million per season, has not lived up to expectations since being acquired in a trade from Florida early in the 2011-12 season.

A former 30-goal scorer with the Panthers, he had just one—an empty netter—and two assists in 12 games in the NHL’s lockout-shortened campaign because of injuries.

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“He is a big part of this team moving forward and we have to protect our team,” said Gillis, explaining why he would not say when the 28-year-old Detroit native might return.

Booth’s future with the Canucks was in question at the end of last season, with many observers speculating that the club might use one of two compliance buyouts available under the new collective bargaining agreement. But because he was on long-term injured reserve at the end of the lockout-shortened campaign, that was not an option.

Vancouver used only one of its buyouts, parting ways with defenceman Keith Ballard, who subsequently signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Minnesota Wild.

Booth also got off to an injury-marred start last season as he suffered a groin injury during on-ice testing at training camp. After coming back, he hurt his ankle March 16 against the Detroit Red Wings when he crashed into the boards on an icing call.

Although the ankle injury was initially not thought to be serious, Booth underwent surgery on March 22 and hasn’t played since .

The Canucks are due to undergo on-ice testing Thursday and take part in their first on-ice workouts Friday.