Canucks Player Autopsy: Mike Santorelli

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Gillis' tenure with the Canucks is marred by reclamation projects that ended badly (see Ballard, Keith and Booth, David), so you can forgive Canucks' fans when they were skeptical when Gillis brought in this one time twenty goal scorer that couldn't stay in the Florida Panthers' lineup.

Who's this guy?

Mike Santorelli.  Who?  Exactly.  Or at least that's what we thought in the summer time.

Position: C

Shoots: Right

Height: 6'0''

Weight: 190 lbs

Born: December 14, 1985 in Vancouver, BC

Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the sixth round, 178th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

What'd he do?

Gave us false hope.  Yup, it's all his fault.  Naturally people 'round these parts would be a tad on the skeptical side when a Florida Panthers cast off gets brought in, given our past history with former Panthers (excluding a certain goaltender).  I am sure it didn't help his case with the fans that his 20 goal season in Florida came playing on a line with David Booth, because by this time the fan base was convinced that any evidence of Booth's hockey abilities must be the product of CGI wizardry.

So in what was one of the more pleasant surprises of a year that was the hockey fan equivalent of drinking a litre of long expired buttermilk, Mike Santorelli appeared to actually possess the talent that he was thought to have if put in the right situation.  Turns out that playing with guys like Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin can actually allow you to succeed, and by the time December rolled around, the local kid that everyone had written off was on pace for another 20 goal season.  Not only that, but the Canucks were chugging along just fine, thank you very much.  Sure the Sedins weren't scoring, but they were getting production, not a ton mind you, but enough to put together a December that had a lot of people thinking maybe John Tortorella's Vancouver Canucks are gonna be able to do battle down the stretch in an ultra-competitive Western Conference.  And not only was he producing, but he was doing so at the league minimum salary of $550,000, which was earning kudos for Gillis as Santorelli was looking like far and away the best bargain in the NHL.

For those of you who have been (comatose/ held hostage in a foreign land/ in space/ unobservant/ working in an underground bunker for a mad scientist hellbent on world domination), this story does not have a happy ending.  January hit the Canucks like a Mack Truck and it was compounded when a season-long rash of injuries soon added Santorelli to the list.  Shortly after injuring his shoulder, suffering a torn labrum, the Canucks announced he would need surgery to repair it, and the recovery time was 5-6 months, meaning even if they made the Finals, we wouldn't see him back in the lineup.

So was he any good?

Season Games Points SH% Corsi For% Fenwick For % O/D/St%
2013-2014 49 28 11 50.6 52.6 43.5
2012-2013 34 4 5.7 50.4 48.9 51
2011-2012 60 11 7.7 50.3 50.5 53.8

It's tough to get a read on Mike, because not only was his sample size with the Canucks small, he's only managed one full season.  In that one, had 20 goals and 21 assists for Florida, and was resigned to a 2 year deal.  He promptly stunk it up in the following seasons, bouncing around between the minors and waivers.  In his favour, he was on pace for another 20 goal season, and had he continued that pace was on course for around 50 points, which is pretty damn good production from a 2nd liner in today's NHL.

What'd we like?

An easy way to win over Canucks fans?  How about the shootout winner against former Canuck goalie of the future (and damn you, damn you to hell for this Mike Gillis) Cory Schneider.

Some sick hands around the net on JS Giguere

Another one on Giguere.  Love everything about this goal: speed, excellent use of Higgins as the decoy to take the defenceman out and then a lazer beam wrister high on Giguere.

OT Winner against Calgary

Cool. So what did we hate?

Well, him getting injured.  Mike Santorelli may not be a superstar, but the Canucks, already reeling from a rotating lineup thanks to injuries took a serious depth hit when he went down.  Sure they were already mired in that horrific January slump when he got hurt, but the loss of Mike Santorelli was as big as any other factor in the Canucks dismal performance from the start of the new year.

So what now?

While there's a lot of serious issues the incoming GM will have to face, what to do about Mike Santorelli shouldn't be overlooked.  Yes, there were many who were wanting Santorelli to be extended mid-season, while others pointed to the season following his 20 goal performance in Florida, where he followed up his contract extension with an 11 point season, as a cautionary tale.  My guess is they give Santorelli another year to try and prove himself, and should he make a full recovery from his surgery, a guy like him would fit well with a team trying to get younger and build for the future.


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