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Features

Santorelli Excited About Second Full Season

Friday, 08.19.2011 / 5:49 PM / Features
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Santorelli Excited About Second Full Season
Florida Panthers' Mike Santorelli (13) scores against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere (35) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Thursday, March 17, 2011. (AP Photo)
By Brian Compton - NHL.com Staff Writer

Mike Santorelli is enjoying the most relaxing summer he's had in years.

No longer will he be entering a training camp having to fight for a roster spot. No longer does he have to worry about those long bus rides in the American Hockey League.

Thanks to a breakout season in 2010-11, Santorelli -- who had spent the majority of the previous three campaigns in the AHL -- has found a home with the Florida Panthers.

Eleven months after being acquired from the Nashville Predators for just a fifth-round draft pick, Santorelli was signed to a two-year contract that reportedly will pay him $1.6 million annually. Not bad for a guy who had just 32 games of NHL experience before exploding onto the scene last season in Florida.

"It feels good," said Santorelli, who appeared in all 82 games for the Panthers last season and had 20 goals and 21 assists. "But at the same time, there's another level I want to take it to. I think that was the mindset going into the summer -- just to keep getting and better and keep improving and try to hit that next step in my career."

Nashville's sixth-round pick (No. 178) in the 2004 Entry Draft, Santorelli spent three years at Northern Michigan University before turning pro in 2007. In his first season in the AHL, he had 21 goals and 21 assists in 80 games with the Milwaukee Admirals. The following season, he went 27-43-70 in 70 contests. It was during that 2008-09 campaign when he fulfilled a lifelong dream, as he skated in seven games for the Predators.

But Santorelli spent the majority of the 2009-10 season back in the AHL, where he continued to dominate -- in 57 games with Milwaukee, he tallied 26 goals and 33 assists. However, he mustered only a pair of goals and an assist in 25 NHL games for Nashville.

Unsure of what the future held in store, Santorelli received a phone call on Aug. 5, 2010 -- a day that ultimately changed his life. He was told he had been traded to Florida in exchange for a conditional fifth-round draft pick.

"That was a pretty big day," Santorelli recalled. "I was really excited to be a part of the Panthers and to help them move forward."

Santorelli made the Panthers out of training camp and flourished in his first full NHL season. He appeared in all 82 games and finished second on the club with 41 points. Truth be told, Santorelli was simply one of those players who needed a legitimate opportunity to prove himself.
 
"I was so grateful for the opportunity the Florida staff gave me," Santorelli told NHL.com. "I think that was a big part of it. I was able to play with some really good players. At the same time, I just learned so much from everybody there -- not only the players, but the staff and management. It felt really good early."

Santorelli is eager to build off the success he achieved last season, and he'll have the opportunity to do so with plenty of fresh faces. Florida GM Dale Tallon went on a spending spree this summer, bringing in the likes of Brian Campbell, Sean Bergenheim, Matt Bradley, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg and Ed Jovanovski. The team also has a new coach, as Peter DeBoer was replaced by Kevin Dineen.

"It's very exciting," Santorelli said of the revamped roster and coached staff. "Just talking to a lot of the guys, everyone is so excited. The additions are such great players. I look forward to playing with them and being teammates with those guys. I think it's an exciting time for us as a team. I think the team's going to be a lot better this year. I'm just excited to get going now. I can't wait to get down there."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 64 22 16 -9 38
J. Huberdeau 61 9 28 3 37
A. Ekblad 64 11 23 7 34
J. Jokinen 63 6 28 -1 34
B. Boyes 62 11 21 8 32
J. Jagr 60 12 19 -10 31
J. Hayes 55 17 12 -4 29
B. Campbell 64 3 20 2 23
A. Barkov 53 10 12 -5 22
V. Trocheck 34 5 11 8 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .921 2.37
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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