It wasn’t the loudest chant you’ll ever hear; they rarely are at Rogers Arena. But there was no mistaking the name of the fans’ favorite during Vancouver’s 3-1 victory last night over Colorado — San-to-rel-li.
As in, Mike Santorelli. Formerly of the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers. Had a brief, unsuccessful stint with Winnipeg last season. The Canucks signed him to a two-way deal in July, with the expectation he was bound for the farm team in Utica.
Turns out expectations were a tad low. Not only did Santorelli — a Vancouver native, by the way — make the big club, the 27-year-old forward now sits fourth in team scoring, with 21 points in 32 games.
Santorelli figured on all three Canucks goals versus the Avs, scoring two of them and setting up Ryan Kesler’s 15th.
Speaking of which, his apparent chemistry with Kesler is another bonus, given the elusiveness of that particular pursuit for Canuck management. But the chemistry makes sense. Santorelli is a good puck distributor, which isn’t something you’d call Kesler, who’s more of a puck taker.
Santorelli is also a pending unrestricted free agent who should be in for a nice raise next season, particularly if he can keep producing at the same rate for the Canucks. And he did have 20 goals and 21 assists for the Panthers in 2010-11, so it would be unfair to call what he’s doing now a fluke. It’s just, nobody really heard about him when he was in Florida.
Related: Santorelli impressing Torts in Vancouver
Kyle Turris is gearing up for his fifth season with the Ottawa Senators, but this campaign will be a little different.
Ottawa announced that Turris will be joining Chris Neil as one of the team’s alternate captains. Turris is assuming that role from Chris Phillips as the 37-year-old defenseman remains out indefinitely due to a back injury.
Since being acquired from the then Phoenix Coyotes in 2011, Turris has established himself as one of Ottawa’s top forwards. He tied for second in the team’s scoring race last season with 64 points in 82 contests and gelled with rookie linemate Mark Stone.
With the Senators favoring a youth movement, Turris actually stands out as one of the Senators’ more experienced players at the age of 26. He’s also set to play a big role with the Senators for years to come as he’s locked to an affordable $3.5 million annual cap hit through 2017-18.
Meanwhile defenseman Erik Karlsson is getting ready for his second season as the team’s captain.
On the eve of their season opener, the Buffalo Sabres got another bit of bad health news.
Captain Brian Gionta missed practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, per head coach Dan Bylsma. The ailment puts the 36-year-old’s availability for Thursday’s game against Ottawa in jeopardy.
The ailment also puts Gionta alongside a slew of hurting Sabres. Defensemen Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges were on the injured list when Buffalo’ roster was released this morning, along with rookie Brendan Guhle and veteran Cody McCormick.
There is a bright light for Buffalo, however.
Gorges skated on Wednesday and could possibly dress tomorrow, per Bylsma. If he does play, it’ll likely be on a pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen.