Mike Santorelli may have finally found a home, and it’s in his hometown. Born in Vancouver, Santorelli’s NHL career began when he was drafted 178th overall by the Nashville Predators in 2004. He did not see the NHL until 5 years later, when he played 7 games for the Predators before being sent back down to the AHL. The next year, however, was a much different story for Mike Santorelli. After the Predators placed him on waivers before the start of the 2010-11 season, Santorelli was claimed by the Florida Panthers. The Panthers took a chance on Santorelli, and he repaid them by scoring 20 goals and 41 points in 82 games, good for second on team scoring behind current Detroit Red Wing Stephen Weiss.
The next three seasons weren’t as nice for Mike Santorelli. Scoring only 11 points in 60 games in 2011-12, and then 3 points in 24 games in 2012-13, the Panthers cut ties with Santorelli, placing him on waivers for the second time in his career. Santorelli was picked up by the Winnipeg Jets, where he only put up one assist in 10 games. After Winnipeg didn’t offer him a contract, Mike Santorelli decided to pack his bags and head home, signing a one-year $550,000 contract with his hometown team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Since returning to Vancouver, Santorelli seems to have found his game once more. Tied for third on team scoring with Ryan Kesler, Mike Santorelli now has 9 goals and 27 points in 42 games, while averaging around 20 minutes of ice time per game. Signing Santorelli was a low-risk move for Vancouver, and it has paid off tremendously for them. But is this season a fluke? Was the 2010-11 season a fluke?
Santorelli has produced for the Canucks, there is no questioning that. But can we trust him to continue producing for Vancouver in the years to come? After his breakout season in Florida, the Panthers signed Santorelli to a 2-year deal worth $3.2 million, or $1.6 million annually. The second that contract kicked in, Santorelli could no longer produce, and the deal wasn’t even for a tremendous amount of money. Next year, The Canucks will have $9.2 million in cap space, but they also have to re-sign Zach Kassian and Chris Tanev along with Santorelli. Signing Mike Santorelli to a multi-year contract would be a mistake for the Canucks. Before we can rely on Mike Santorelli as a consistent scorer, he has to be consistent. If the Canucks choose to re-sign him, they must do so with little risk. Another 1-year deal worth less than $1 million will give us all another year to observe him. If he performs similarly to the way he has this season, then a multi-year deal would be more acceptable. For now, Santorelli is doing great in Vancouver, and I’m happy for him, but I want to see him do it consistently before I can consider him a good depth player.