Were it not for a Game 7 loss at the Honda Center in the 2014-15 Western Conference final, the Anaheim Ducks could very well be celebrating the franchise’s second Stanley Cup this summer. But with yet another addition, the Ducks looked primed for the opportunity to celebrate another championship following the upcoming campaign.
The Ducks announced they have inked Mike Santorelli to a one-year, $875,000 contract, and Monday’s signing is yet another addition to a roster that already had a lot of promise for the 2015-16 season.
While Santorelli’s not the biggest name available — he’s not a Cody Franson or Christian Ehrhoff — adding the speedy pivot gives Anaheim a depth center option that can contribute both offensively and defensively. That’s not to mention Santorelli comes at a cheap enough price that should Ducks GM Bob Murray want or need to add another piece, he could do so seeing as Anaheim has nearly $7.5 million in open cap space, according to General Fanager.
By picking up Santorelli, the Ducks fill up a depth center role that had appeared as if it might land in the lap of 22-year-old Rickard Rakell. However, Santorelli’s signing means Rakell can take time to grow into the role while Santorelli plays down the middle. The signing also gives the Ducks a two-way depth center who will take some of the onus off of Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler to play big minutes at both ends of the ice.
Santorelli spent the 2014-15 campaign between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators, scoring 12 goals and 33 points in 79 games. In terms of production, it was the second-best season of Santorelli’s career and showed the 29-year-old could be an offensive contributor as well as an important role player.
One area where the Ducks struggled in the post-season was getting production from their bottom-six. While there were some standouts — Jakob Silfverberg, for instance, came into his own during the playoffs — the group of Rakell, Nate Thompson, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, Tomas Fleischmann, Chris Wagner, Jiri Sekac and Tim Jackman combined for a total of eight goals and 16 points. Santorelli can boost production from the bottom half of the roster.
With the Santorelli signing, the Ducks have now made more than a dozen off-season moves, including notable trades for blueliner Kevin Bieksa and speedy winger Carl Hagelin, the acquisition of veteran Shawn Horcoff and the signing of Chris Stewart, who could be a suitable replacement for now-Bruin Matt Beleskey. After three consecutive Game 7 exits in the post-season, the Ducks aren’t standing pat and waiting for a change of fortune. Rather, the team is assembling a roster that looks ready for yet another deep playoff push.