With a suddenly crowded group of forwards and thinning patience for the prospect himself, the Nashville Predators sent forward Mike Santorelli to the rebuilding Florida Panthers for a conditional fifth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck summarizes the Predators’ reasoning quite nicely.
The depth chart at center in Nashville simply doesn’t afford an opportunity any more for Santorelli, who can get a fresh start with the Panthers (if the Preds had wanted to send him back to Milwaukee, he would have had to clear waivers this fall). One can bet that Mike Santos, who left the Preds to become Florida’s assistant general manager, is a believer in Santorelli’s potential. An experiment last fall which saw him play on the wing didn’t pan out, as he notched two goals and one assist in 25 NHL games. At the AHL level, however, he’s been a point-per-game player for the last two years.
Santorelli failed to make an impact in his two auditions with the big club. He went pointless in seven games in the 08-09 season while he only scored two goals and one assist in 25 games during last season. Still, Panthers fans can build a little bit of hope that the young center will figure it out. Here’s a quick write-up on Santorelli from Hockey’s Future.
Santorelli has great hands and scoring ability. He has outstanding speed and acceleration, and coupled with his quickness makes him a very difficult player to contain. Santorelli has the ability to make things happen every time he’s on the ice.
It seems like a reasonable move for both sides. Santorelli was a sixth round pick in the 2004 draft, so the Predators could say they essentially moved up a round in the draft … seven years later. Conversely, the Panthers aren’t taking a big risk on Santorelli when you consider the fact that they only gave up a fifth rounder.
Sometimes a change of scenery could work wonders for a player. We’ll see if that’s the case for Santorelli in Sunrise.