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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