Canucks Sign Mike Santorelli

Blake Murphy
July 06 2013 11:23AM

 

The Vancouver Canucks have made another depth signing this morning, inking centreman Mike Santorelli to a deal with terms that are undisclosed at the moment. The signing was first reported by 1130 Sports, I believe. At least, they were first in my timeline:

The Province has a story up and the Canucks have confirmed the signing via their website.

While Santorelli might have a "meh" player card, he fills a couple of important niche roles that could be of value for the Canucks:

*He's 10-for-19 in shootouts in his career.

*He won 28 of his 42 faceoffs in limited action with Winnipeg last year, a ridiculous sample size.

*He has played the pivot and the wing during his NHL tenure.

For a fourth-line depth signing, niche skills and versatility are two very important qualities to look for. If this signing is a low-cost one (he made $1.6M each of the past two years on a one-way contract, but I would guess he's taking a pay cut), it would be difficult not to break even. A guy who can do a few things really well and bounce around the line-up is great to have in the bottom six.

There's also this nugget from Pass it to Bulis:

So, there's that. It probably doesn't mean anything, but perhaps the team thinks they can rediscover some chemsitry if paired together.

Without Booth, Santorelli has struggled to score consistently - he has just 11 goals in 94 NHL games since that season and was waived by the Panthers in April. It's a low-risk gamble, a one-year deal according to Harrison Mooney at PitB. Mooney sums up the current crop of forwards pretty well, so I'll quote him 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 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, but both have to know it’s going to take strong camps to overcome the Canucks’ bias towards their prospects.

In terms of possession stats, it's tough to get a read on Santorelli given the 27-year old has mostly partial seasons.

Year Corsi Rel Corsi Rel Qoc Corsi Rel QoT Zone%
2008-09 7.9 -0.025 0.893 57.5
2009-10 -8.3 -0.286 0.588 53.7
2010-11 -1.3 0.731 0.774 52.9
2011-12 2.3 -0.485 -0.986 53.2
2012-13 2.5 -0.038 -0.505 52.6

One thing that jumps out right away is that he's been pretty sheltered, which isn't surprising - he's had favorable zone starts and has only once matched up with an opposition's top six, on average. But that's conflicted somewhat by the fact that in 2011-12 and 2012-13, his teammate quality dropped off but he maintained strong relative possession numbers.

That table, especially given it covers just 208 games, is probably more noise than signal. 2010-11, his 20-goal season, saw him post weak possession numbers despite favorable deployment with good teammates, but it was also the only time he faced difficult competition regularly.

It's pretty tough to get a handle on him through these stats, so let's hold off judgment until we get some input from someone who has watched more Panthers games than me (or until he suits up in camp).

Regardless, it's difficult to not like the signing. It's short-term, assumed to be at a low-cost, and Santorelli does a few things well while providing versatility. Plus, you can put your blinders on and envision a scenario where he rediscovers offensive success.

Slight update, although it's still speculation:

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Blake is a news editor at The Score and also writes basketball for Raptors Republic and baseball at Fangraphs/Rotographs. As such, he doesn't write at TLN nearly as much as he should. Give him a follow @BlakeMurphyODC.
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#1 VC
July 06 2013, 11:34AM
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The year he scored 20 goals, he was also a -17, this is probably not good for Tortorella's anger management.

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#2 JI123
July 06 2013, 12:07PM
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@VC

He also played on the Panthers...

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#3 Bert
July 06 2013, 01:09PM
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On a 2 way deal and likely destined for the farm. Canucks have lots of room on their Utica roster now that they're in full control of the franchise.

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#4 BrudnySeaby
July 06 2013, 01:37PM
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Yeah, I hope that is a Utica signing as well cause with Santorelli the Canucks ain't winnin' the war! Boy, does Gillis have a fetish for Florida players? Maybe he should quit and sign there!?

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#5 BrudnySeaby
July 06 2013, 01:54PM
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Also, every $ spend on signings like this prevents the Canucks from landing somebody for a slightly higher cap hit and thus a hopefully better player. Basically, every signing like this brings with it it's opportunity costs of foregoing a possibly better player.

I would argue that the Canucks would be better off trying to sign a Grabovski for $2.5-3mln for a year as their 3C (while also being Kesler insurance), and giving 4C to one of their young players.

After that you can fill out the roster with $625K guys or our youth players. Explain to Grabovski that it could be a mutually beneficial project for him as well as us and that we could either resign him next year for a better contract or that he can walk with both sides having more time and a better idea about the new cap ceiling.

But one problem would be Gillis and whether or not players trust his word any longer.

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#6 Jamie E
July 06 2013, 04:21PM
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@brudnyseaby - Grabovski is going to sign for $4 million + on a deal with 4-5 years term. bank on it.

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#7 raraolala
July 06 2013, 08:36PM
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Despite the statistics which is hard to quantify due to the low sample size, Santorelli would definitely have a lot of drive and motivation to make the team. He grew up an avid Canucks fan, and the mere thought of being able to play for the team he grew up admiring is going to be huge. Source? He was my classmate in elementary and secondary school.

Not to mention that he would have taken a huge pay cut for this opportunity.

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#8 Sean
July 06 2013, 08:57PM
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Just like Jeff tambellini right. What a bunk signing. Gillis is awful at talent analysis.

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#9 Sarcasm Mode
July 07 2013, 01:30AM
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On a side note, it appears that Mason Raymond has not been signed to a contract yet. I take it no one in the league wants him. Gee whiz, I wonder why? I mean, what team doesn't want a player who doesn't hit, falls down more times then globs of snot from a 2 year olds nose? The fact that Raymond was here for so long still annoys me to no end. Such a waste of time, there's literally no sense of urgency from a team who has never won the cup in almost half a century. The Canucks seem to love wasting more time than a talk radio DJ.

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#10 Reuben
July 07 2013, 01:05PM
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Here's your Kesler insurance. He can slot into the top six for 10-20 games without too many adverse effects and if he has chemistry with Booth, all the better.

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#12 Ca$h-Money!
July 09 2013, 08:14AM
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BrudnySeaby wrote:

Also, every $ spend on signings like this prevents the Canucks from landing somebody for a slightly higher cap hit and thus a hopefully better player. Basically, every signing like this brings with it it's opportunity costs of foregoing a possibly better player.

I would argue that the Canucks would be better off trying to sign a Grabovski for $2.5-3mln for a year as their 3C (while also being Kesler insurance), and giving 4C to one of their young players.

After that you can fill out the roster with $625K guys or our youth players. Explain to Grabovski that it could be a mutually beneficial project for him as well as us and that we could either resign him next year for a better contract or that he can walk with both sides having more time and a better idea about the new cap ceiling.

But one problem would be Gillis and whether or not players trust his word any longer.

Just off the top of my head, I can name 28 other teams that would like to sign Grabovski at that price.

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#13 JDM
July 09 2013, 10:23AM
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So, the Canucks now have an NHL record twelve million fourth line centres. Among Santorelli, Richardson, Schroeder, Gaunce, Horvat (maybe),and Lain, they'll find someone who can play that role admirably - likely Richardson.

Yet there is no one in that group that you can slot in in the 3C spot between (probably) Higgins and Hansen that doesn't make you want to hold your nose while you do it. Schroeder is the best option, but that would be Cody Hodgson 2.0 in terms of deployment. It's a soft chewy middle of a line that would otherwise be a pain in the ass to play against.

I see no solution to this problem that isn't Grabovski, who this team cannot afford to pay the at LEAST 3.5M it will take to get him.

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#14 elvis15
July 09 2013, 03:54PM
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@Ca$h-Money!

Did you forget the Leafs? Just because they bought him out and he won't go back doesn't mean they wouldn't like him at that price.

Besides, we can bring in someone else with the 10% cap overage available to set rosters in the summer and all it would do is push guys like Santorelli down to the AHL. He's at the bottom of the pecking order with Sestito and Weise if anyone else impresses.

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#15 JCDavies
July 09 2013, 11:36PM
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@elvis15

"Did you forget the Leafs? Just because they bought him out and he won't go back doesn't mean they wouldn't like him at that price."

That, and the fact that, for the season following the buyout, the player is prohibited from rejoining the team that bought him out...

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