Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis added forward depth today by signing Petri Kontiola, Mike Santorelli & Troy Bodie to one-year deals. Of the three signings, Mike Santorelli possesses the most NHL experience, playing in 257 career NHL games.
Although the 28 year-old Santorelli has played for four different organizations during his six year career, he is widely described as a “heart-and-soul” player that brings a great work ethic to the arena on a daily basis. His hard working attitude makes a him a versatile player on the ice that according to ex-Canucks head coach John Torterella, “is somebody I look for in all situations.” It wasn’t just Tortorella who had high praise for Santorelli’s work ethic. Maple Leafs defensemen Morgan Rielly took to Twitter earlier today, to quickly voice his praise of Santorelli’s work ethic.
— morgan rielly (@mriles4) July 3, 2014
Santorelli’s work ethic was most notable on the Canucks penalty kill this season, where in the 49 games he played, the Canucks penalty kill was ranked in the top five. After Santorelli’s injury, the Canucks penalty kill lost a bit of its edge, but still managed to finish the season ranked 9th in the NHL. On the penalty kill, Santorelli’s ability to win face-offs at exactly a 50% rate (43 wins, 43 losses), helped the Canucks immensely. His success in the face-off dot should instantly help a Maple Leafs penalty kill that had no player post a higher face-off percentage than 45.9% in 4-on-5 situations this year, according to Extra Skater.
Overall, Mike Santorelli should be a nice fit on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster.
The signing of Finnish Centre Petri Kontiola might be best described as a wild card. The 29-year old Kontiola is a former seventh round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Although he only played 12 games for the Blackhawks in 2007-08, amassing a grand total of 5 points, Kontiola was a solid AHL player – posting 130 points in 147 games. After his brief stint in North America, Kontiola went overseas to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Suiting up for Traktor Chlyabinsk the last three seasons, Kontiola posted 105 points in 150 games. In a defensive league like the KHL, his point total is more than respectable.
Kontiola’s international play for his home country Finland may have solidified his ticket to the NHL this year. In six games during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Kontiola registered one goal and four assists in about 16 minutes of ice time a game. But the recent 2014 IIHF World Championships is where Kontiola really took flight, posting three goals and six assists in ten games, en route to helping the Fins secure a silver medal.
Although Kontiola is more of a stationary type player that does not have the same creativeness with the puck that fellow country men Jori Lehterä does, he could still deem to be a nice piece on the Maple Leafs power play and third line. Ulitmately, Kontiola is a low risk signing that possesses a high ceiling at a cheap cost.
The third signing of the day brought back Troy Bodie. Bodie played in 47 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season recording 3 goals, seven assists and plus six rating. Bodie has 21 points in 154 career NHL games, playing for Anaheim, Carolina and most recently Toronto. Bodie will more than likely have to fight for ice time on the teams fourth line.
Once training camp opens up, I would expect that these trio of forwards will likely enter training camp battling for positions on the third and fourth line respectively.