Desperation To Play, Or Just Desperate. Plus Other News

News out of Florida Panther camp is that Mike Santorelli has a chance to start the season as the second line center for the Florida Panthers.   So let me get this straight.  A player (Santorelli) that was picked up from the Nashville Predators for a conditional draft pick, has looked good enough to take a top six forward spot thus moving veteran center Stephen Reinprecht to wing?

Hmmmm.  What does this say about the competition and the Panthers?  And Rhino? While the Panthers promised at the beginning of camp that all spots were up for grabs, this actually has me a bit befuddled.  I didn’t really think that Santorelli had a chance to start the season at the NHL level and thought he was more of an insurance pickup and would spend most of his time in Rochester.  If this decision is indeed true and pans out, it would seem that right now there are some players that could be on the bubble.  Byron Bitz, Marty Reasoner, and Steve Bernier and even Michael Grabner could be in trouble.  Pure speculation on my part as I don’t have the inside scoop on any of this.

Santorelli made the Predators opening night roster last season and stuck around for 25 games.  By January however he was back in the AHL after not making much of a dent.  In 25 games he had 2 goals and one assist and was a minus 8. Yea, that sounds like a guy that deserves second line minutes.  So far this preseason Santorelli has one goal in three games and is a minus 2.

By doing this, Rhino has been demoted moved down to the third line and skated Wednesday with Shawn Matthias as his center and Michael Grabner as the right wing.  Santorelli was centering for Cory Stillman and Rusty Olesz, a very interesting line combo.

I would have to think that Santorelli would have to be lights out to make this kind of impact and I haven’t really heard too much about him until yesterday.  He was buzzing all over the place Monday night against the Habs, but honestly this is a head scratcher.  To jump on DeBoer’s comment, is it just that he’s playing with desperation, or the Panthers are desperate to make something work?

Pete DeBoer said that it’s about “desperation to play, and that we have to try all combinations to try and create offence”.

Yes, creating offence is going to be a challenge this year that’s for sure.  The Panthers have been very impressed with Santorelli so far and knowing that he did make the Predators last season and faltered, maybe it was a learning lesson for him.  They do like his speed and his skill which are attributes that the Cats can use.

George Richards from the Miami Herald caught up with Santorelli yesterday and here’s the interview:

In other news, Michael Nylander most recently of the Washington Capitals was loaned to Rochester by the Caps. It’s a tangled web on how Nylander can get back to the NHL, but the Caps would have to recall him, and the Panthers could try to pull him off waivers, but any club below the Panthers could then grab him.  For now Washington pays Nylander’s salary.  I would be shocked if he ends up in a Panther sweater this season.

Byron Bitz and Christopher Higgins were held out of practice today.  Bitz with a lower body injury and Higgy with a groin.  Both were considered minor injuries.

The Florida Panthers made some modifications to their dressing room.  They have roped off the logo so as to prevent anyone from walking on the Panthers.  Hmmmm, they don’t want anyone walking on it, but it was ok to have it in the men’s urinals so that they could, well you know.  How about just follow the “code”?  Don’t step on the logo?

Can’t these guys do anything right?

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Tags: Byron Bitz Chris Higgins Desperation Florida Panthers Mike Santorelli Nashville Predators Steven Reinprecht

  • slapshot1106

    I see your point about the talent-deprived Panthers roster, but I’ll try to spin it as a positive.. The best thing I can think is that they’ve created more competitive battles for roster spots than they have in years past.. So even though most teams don’t bring in outsiders to be counted on as Top6 guys, I’m thinking PDB and Tallon may use a guy like Santorelli to send a message to current Panthers(Rhino, Matthias, Bernier, Grabner, Bitz, Higgins, Olesz, Frolik, Stillman) that there’s going to be constant competition for roster spots…

    PDB likes to rotate guys and flirt with various line combos, so I’d like to see it’s more of a message sender to the rest of the pack that performance and work ethic will be rewarded with more ice time, not just your past resume…

    Also, the Panthers have extra guys and are stuck with some contracts, but they’re nowhere near the CAP ceiling, so it’s a message that they’re not going to pencil you into a spot just because you make a lot of $$$.. Certainly guys like Stillman, McCabe, Allen and Wideman may get a little extra leeway because they will want to give them exposure for possible deals somewhere down the road, but younger guys will definitely have to earn their stripes..

    More positives than negatives so far, so I think the Panthers compete better earlier on than in years past.. Eventually they’ll probably fade unless Tallon can pull some magic, but there’s more hope now than a few months ago… And Santos seems to be a great addition, as he brings knowledge, creativity, and contacts we haven’t seen from previous management…

    • Frank Rekas

      Agree, that the competition is a good thing and it “brereds” a competetive atmosphere.
      My main point is that yes, we are deprived of players that can make a difference. Offensively this will be the third season in a row that DeBoer has to squeeze blood out of a rock.

      If veteran guys like Stillman, Rhino, Bernier can’t get there act together here, are are threatened by a guy like Santorelli, then the problems are bigger than we think.

      A second line center should be able to put up 55-65 points on most teams. Problem here is that the Panthers would be satisfied if he put up 35.
      At that rate, we continually go no place.

      If Rhino and Stillman aren’t pulling their weight, make a deal now and get rid of them, so we can do a true rebuild. As grotesque as that sounds.

  • slapshot1106

    I think we’re stuck because there’s very limited interest in guy like Rhino, Stillman, and Bernier… I believe Bernier was thrown into the deal to make numbers work.. Grabner hopefully has upside, but we seem to have so many wingers that some of them will have to sit…

    Stillman and Rhino may get some interest closer to the deadline, but I doubt other teams would want those guys this early in the season and pay them somewhere between $2-3 mill/year… For now, I think moving Santorelli in is writing on the wall that Rhino and Stillman wouldn’t be here if they could find takers…

    Most teams would rather start the season with their prospects they’ve drafted to see if they can make it.. Our best bet is to wait for injuries, and maybe we can off-load them later in the year.. Or if Tallon can get creative, offer up a package with a Dman, Fwd, and a suspect contract for 1 or 2 players and/or picks in return.. Let’s hope he’s talking to Garth Snow and Chuck Fletcher..