Prospect Or Bust?


Breaking news in Predator Nation! Mike Santorelli was traded to the Florida Panthers for a conditional fifth round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. Ok, “breaking news” doesn’t always mean super-duper exciting, but at this point in the off-season, we’ll take what we can get. So let’s look a little closer.

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Santorelli, a restricted free agent, put up pretty good numbers in the few years he spent in Milwaukee.

Santorelli in Milwaukee


If those were NHL numbers, he might have shaken things up on our top line. The Predators can be a goal-starved team from time to time, and numbers like these probably would have won us a few games.

Here are Santorelli’s stats as a Nashville Predator.

Santorelli in Nashville


As well as Santorelli played for the Ads, for some reason, he just couldn’t duplicate his success with the big club. 32 games with 3 points, and a -13 rating…For someone who looked so promising at the AHL level, seeing Santorelli fail made me cry a little on the inside.

Amanda, very wisely, suggested to me that the Santorelli situation reminded her of the Rich Peverley saga from a few years ago. Yep, I definitely see some interesting parallels. So, what did Rich Peverley do for us at the AHL and NHL levels?

Peverley in Milwaukee


* = no SOG data

Peverley in Nashville


Sure enough, Peverley was a top notch prospect at one point in his career. I can remember being super pumped that Peverley and Radulov were both in our system near the same time. I thought for sure they’d both earn a roster spot and immediately start making a huge difference on the attack. At the time, I was even ok with us clearing room for him on our roster via trades if it meant our offense would produce more goals.

Rich Peverley was put on waivers by the Predators and claimed by Atlanta during the 2008-2009 season. Sadly, there must have been a little more chemistry working for him in Atlanta, because Peverley started playing like the player we thought we had all along. So far, Rich has played pretty well for the Thrashers, but the concensus is he needs to be a little more consitent to cement his status as a true NHL caliber talent. Because creating a stat table for Peverley’s time in Atlanta would hurt my heart a little (actually i’m too lazy to do it right now after my day at the rock pile), I’ll just give you the highlights. Rich Peverley, in 121 games with the Thrashers, has scored 35 goals, and accumulated a total of 90 points.

Was letting Peverley go a good move or a bad move? I definitely think we should have given him a little more time to develop. He was sent to Atlanta in the middle of the season. It was not an end of the year, restricted free agent situation like Santorelli’s…not nearly as urgent of a matter, in my humble opinion. Peverley definitely had talent buried deep down inside of him. It’s possible he just needed a little more time to feel truly comfortable at the NHL level. On the other hand, some players just don’t work with certain teams for whatever reason. Maybe Toots stole his lunch money and made him feel unwelcome, result: suckiness. Nevertheless, Rich Peverly has been a fair success in Atlanta thus far, but he may have never amounted to anything in our system.

Back to Santorelli. I think trading Santorelli was an acceptable move. He obviously belongs playing on a line as a centerman, a position we look acceptable at right now. Santorelli is an RFA, and negotiating with a player whom you aren’t sure will pan out can sometimes be a risky venture. Besides, if the Predators decided to send him to Milwaukee he would have had to clear waivers first. Getting a conditional 5th rounder for Santorelli, at this point of his unproven career, is better than us waiving him and getting nothing for him should another team show interest. Plus, Poile and friends have a proven track record of working magic in the Entry Draft. The additional pick should give them an extra shot to find another young talent…And again, something, even if it is a conditional 5th rounder, is better than nothing.

Mike Santorelli could be a huge success in Florida, who knows. Actually, I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll be pretty successful. He’ll probably see NHL minutes soon, since the Panther’s roster could use a little help. If he continues to disappoint, I think he’ll still be accepted in Florida. They aren’t used to a lot of success down there anyway…ouch.

I’ll hate myself in 2 years when Santorelli is a top line NHL center. Actually, I think I’m starting to have doubts about it right now. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

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