Like a Wal-Mart shopper trying to find a third DVD in the 3 for $20 basket, the Canucks continue to scour the bargain bins in free agency. On Saturday, they nabbed another player, signing Vancouver native Mike Santorelli to one-year contract.
On first glance, Santorelli, a natural centre that can also play the wing, seems like a replacement for Pittsburgh-bound Andrew Ebbett as the Canucks’ 13th forward and Jordan Schroeder’s direct competition. (It’s also possible he’s been brought in to give the Canucks a homegrown Italian forward, something they haven’t had since Jeff Tambellini left town.)
As with each move they’ve made so far, it’s a little underwhelming, unless you’re Brad Richardson’s mom or something. But it’s easy to see how the hard-working, speedy, 6’0″, 190 lb. Santorelli could be an attractive gamble for the Canucks.
Once upon a time, Santorelli was a 20-goal scorer for the Florida Panthers, and I do mean just once. His lone productive season in the NHL came in 2010-11, when he put up 20 goals and 41 points skating alongside — wait for it — David Booth. Santorelli’s deal is two-way, so it’s likely going to take some stellar play from him to even be on the same team as Booth, let alone the same line, but if he can play his way onto the club, reuniting Booth and Santorelli, perhaps on line 3, is an option.
After that productive season, however, Santorelli hit a wall. Booth was dealt to Vancouver, which didn’t help, and new coach Kevin Dineen had little use for him. He lost confidence, fell down the depth chart, and late in the 2013 season, the Panthers placed him on waivers. He was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets, playing 10 games and posting just one assist for the club before the season ended.
And now he’s here.
Is there any reason to believe Santorelli can re-find his game in Vancouver? Sure there is: blind hope.
Plus his last name sort of sounds like his new coach’s. Maybe he can use that as a bonding opportunity?
“What’s your name, kid?”
“Santorelli. Hey, pretty close to Tortorella! Ella, Elli… that’s pretty neat, isn’t it?”
“Okay, you’re cut. Get the [expletive] out of here.”
Motivation and opportunity could both play a role as well. No doubt the job market here appealed to Santorelli. The Canucks now have a decent battle going for the third and fourth line centre jobs, with Santorelli, Brad Richardson, Jordan Schroeder, Brendan Gaunce, Bo Horvat, and Kellan Lain all in the running for a gig. No doubt Santorelli and Richardson are the front-runners, what with their superior NHL experience, but both have to know it’s going to take strong camps to overcome the Canucks’ bias towards their prospects.
Santorelli has one other quality you’ll like. He’s good at shootouts, 10-for-20 in his career. That’s one of the successful attempts in the photo at the top of this post.Tags: Free Agent Frenzy, Mike Santorelli