Mike Santorelli

The Maturation Of Mike Santorelli.

Today’s music video is The Letter by Veils.

One of the brights spots of the Florida Panthers this season has been the play of center Mike Santorelli, who was acquired this summer from the Nashville Predators for a 5th round draft pick in 2011.  Based on what we’ve seen so far in the first part of the year I think it would be safe to say that Santorelli is developing into one of the better acquisitions so far by General Manager Dale Tallon, who had help on this from Assistant General Manager Mike Santos.  Santos was was previously with the Predators organEYEzation and very familiar with Santorelli.

The scouting report from CBC Sports earlier this season described Santorelli as fast with lively legs and a lot of enthusiasm.  The 25 year old center has seen his ice time increase since the beginning of the season especially since he scored his first goal of the year in his eighth game with the Panthers against the Ottawa Senators. Santorelli’s play has improved so much that after starting the season on the fourth line, he’s moved up to the second line, and has seen minutes on both special teams.

Upon arriving this summer from Nashville, if you were like me when hearing about the deal,  I’m sure you didn’t jump up and down as though we had found the answer to our scoring woes, but you have to admit, he’s been a very pleasant surprise and has worked hard since training camp to be where he’s at right now.  Not an overly physical player by any means, he’s been solid on the forecheck, and is aggressive when he’s on the penalty killing unit, contributing to their success.  He brings youthful energy and seems to be fitting into his role with the team.  Playing on the second line, lately with David Booth on his left side, his right wingers have included either Evgeny Dadonov or sometimes Chris Higgins, or Michael Frolik , he’s easily adapted to his linemates.  His speed along with that of his wingers has created an exciting second line to watch as well as one to get some scoring from.

Drafted in the 6th round by Nashville in 2004, the 178th player chosen, Santorelli enjoyed some success playing for Northern Michigan in the CCHA, with his point totals increasing each of his three years there.  In 2006-2007 he had his best season with 47 points in 41 games.  In the 2007-2008 season playing for the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, Mike had 42 points in 8o games.  However it was the next season where he showed his potential.  70 points in 70 games for Milwaukee including 12 of his 27 goals coming on the power play.  He had the proverbial cup of coffee with Nasvhille in 2008-2009 getting into 7 games, but had no points.

Last season he did the Milwaukee-Nashville shuffle for the Predators organization playing in 25 games for Nashville.  Unfortunately he had only 3 points and was a minus 8.  Still in 57 games with Milwaukee he again showed his promise with 59 points of which 26 were goals, and he was a healthy plus 17.

As of today he’s on pace for a 36 point season, but with his ice time increasing to almost 19 minutes per night, I believe that he’ll actually achieve a higher number.  He’s playing more, he’s more confident, and the coaching staff is more confident in him by putting him in situations where he can be successful.  He’s not a number one center at this point, and that’s not a knock on him at all.  However, he appears to be a very reliable and consistent number two.

Santorelli is signed for one year at $600,000 and is a restricted free agent this summer.  In a season of change and patience, Mike Santorelli has quietly been one of the bright spots on this Panther team.  If he keeps improving and showing that he deserves the top six minutes that he’s been getting, I see no reason why he won’t be resigned.  No, not an Uncle Jack 6 year special.  Too early for that.  But I’d be comfortable with a 2 or 3 year deal at somewhere around the $1.5 million range (give or take $250,000), with some bonus money built in.

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Tags: Dale Tallon Florida Panthers Maturation Mike Santorelli Mike Santos Nashville Predators

  • http://pamanner.wordpress.com/ Pamela

    I agree, Santorelli is rockin it!

    • Frank Rekas

      Pamela, he’s been quite a surprise, and a very pleasant addition to this team. His play as long as it continues could make others tradeable. I can see him being the second line guy for awhile.

  • slapshot1106

    Yes Santorelli has certainly been a breath of fresh air. Given we held on to Horton for far too long that we were unable to get the offensive return most of us would’ve wanted, I think the Panthers were long overdue to come out on top on one of their transactions…

    So major kudos to Santos for an eye for talent and Tallon for bringing in Santos… A good manager surrounds himself with quality talent, and Santos sounds like a nice sidekick to help turn things around here… Now let’s just hope the scouts they’ve added can have positive effects for the long-term success here…

    As far as resigning Santorelli, I’d think it’ll take much more than $1.5 mill… I think with his attitude and based on the fact that his stats should end up almost replacing Horton’s, I don’t think we want to short-change the guy and let him walk… I’m not saying he deserves Horton’s $4++ mill/year or Olesz’s 6 year deal, but if he ends up with 25 goals with quality PK and PP time, I think that’s worthy enough of at least $2.5-3 mill for 3 or 4 years.. IF a guy truly is worthy of being a Top-6 FWD, then he should be rewarded accrodingly…. Not saying he’s ready to play with the elite yet, but CENTERS are harder to find and we need to retain the quality ones when we get them..

    • Frank Rekas

      While giving him more money will of course be based on his performance, I don’t think that the Panthers will be tossing around fat contracts like before. Maybe my numbers were low, but load them up with bonus money and maybe they can strike a deal. Should he get to 25 goals, then I reserve the right to readjust my offer!
      With pleasure!

  • slapshot1106

    Agreed. Reward when justified.. He does have to prove it over the course of a full season, but it looks like he’s here to stay and hopefully gets better as he’s surrounded with better talent… I’d much rather have his game at 20-25 goals than Horton’s 25-30….

    • Frank Rekas

      Yea, from the sounds of it Boston is now dealing with the side of Nate that we had. Sulking, no heart, etc. Says alot about an athlete. Half a heart, ton of talent, but a two cent brain.