The Maple Leafs have signed centerman Mike Santorelli to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract.
It looks like the Maple Leafs have settled for two cheaper options than David Legwand to round out their bottom six centers, adding Mike Santorelli as well as KHL import Petri Kontiola today. One is likely to play wing (Kontiola or Santorelli could play RW) while the other rounds out the group of centers alongside Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Peter Holland. Those are questions for training camp. For now, all of Petri Kontiola, Peter Holland and Mike Santorelli give the Leafs bottom six C options and the Leafs are paying all three quite a bit less collectively than they would have Dave Bolland.
Avoiding burdensome contracts on mediocre talent in favour of good-value piecemeal options, lower-commitment and lower-risk options with the potential to provide the same impact or better, appears to be the approach for Leafs management this off season. Good on them. Maybe they net out ahead from a number of cheaper, incremental improvements; at a minimum, some cap flexibility remains in tact and David Clarkson remains the lone egregious contract on the roster.
“I like him as a player. He can really shoot the puck.”
This is good value for a former 40-point scorer in Santorelli (put up a 20-21-40 season with the Panthers in 2010-11). He had a down year in 2011-12 before shoulder surgery all but wiped his 2012-13 season, but he bounced back with a good season of 28 points in 49 games last season in Vancouver (suffered another shoulder injury that wiped a chunk of the season). Vancouver Canucks fans were mostly upset to see him go.
Santorelli, 6’0, 190-pounds, has skill, can cycle and will bring some sorely needed secondary offense in the bottom six. He doesn’t offer the same frame as Nik Kulemin, but he works tirelessly and he should replace his production at a much cheaper price. He adds versatility and depth to the bottom 6 options.
Santorelli won 51.3% of his draws last season. He played 18:33 a game, including 1:43 on the penalty kill and 1:23 on the powerplay. None of his 28 points in 49 games came on the powerplay, which means he posted just six less points at even strength than Mason Raymond in 33 fewer games and eight more than Nik Kulemin in 21 fewer games. He posted a +0.9% corsi rel score.
“Forget about the goals; there are a lot of other little things he does in the game. I’m looking up and down the bench in all situations for him. So it’s a really good story.”
The Maple Leafs have an interesting bottom six forming consisting of hungry players in Komarov, his fellow new Finnish addition Kontiola, and Santorelli on a one-year deal. There might be more room to improve the team through the bottom six alone than we think, provided Randy Carlyle changes his approach and uses a fourth line, because last season it was positively terrible.
Mike Santorelli Scouting Report
“Skilled oppurtunistic playmaker with quick, nifty hands and good vision… skating is fairly quick and fluid but not dynamic… generates bursts of momentum by an alternating series of crossovers… needs to keep adding power and quickness to his stride, especially in startup… comfortable in possession… sneaky and elusive in tight quarters – makes sharp pivots and reversals with the puck… know how to open lanes coming off the halfwall and packs a quick, accurate wrist shot which he can unload without breaking stride… supports the puckcarrier well in each zone, hustling to get around the puck and provide an outlet… continues to develop a more consistent compete level as he’s most effective when tenancious in puck pursuit… misses some size and physical intensity – and has to maximize his strenght and conditioning… industrious player.”
Mike Santorelli Video
Mike Santorelli StatisticsPosition: C
Weight: 189 lbs.
Birth Date: December 14, 1985 (28 years old)
Place of Birth: Vancouver, B.C.
Drafted:Drafted by Nashville in 2004 (6/178)