Report: No progress between Maple Leafs, Santorelli in contract talks

It would seem that Darren Dreger will have to update his big board, and bump up the likelihood of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Santorelli being dealt before the March 2nd NHL trade deadline.

There was reportedly some interest among Maple Leafs brass in re-signing Santorelli, a pending unrestricted free agent, to a contract extension. Efforts to reach a deal have reportedly hit a snag though, and Santorelli can expected to be shopped over the next few weeks, according to a report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post

There’s two sides of this coin for Toronto – one positive and one negative.

Let’s start with the bad. The bad is that the Maple Leafs will be trading away a very good player who was been extremely useful on a bargain basement contract.

Of the 11 skaters with whom Santorelli has skated for at least 100 5-on-5 minutes over the past two years, seven have done better by shot attempt differential with him than without him. He’s also managed to generate even-strength offense at a comparable rate to what Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk have accomplished over a similar time frame. 

If the Maple Leafs could’ve come to an agreement with Santorelli on a reasonably priced two- or three-year deal, that would’ve probably been more valuable than netting a third-round pick, or a B grade prospect on the trade market.

Now for the good news: there’s pretty much no better rental asset than Santorelli. 

He’s not paid at tonne (just $1.5 million), so nearly every contender can fit him under the salary cap. He’s versatile enough to play centre or either wing position, so the Maple Leafs can try to see if opposing club’s will value him as a pivot – a premium position – on the market. At least some will. He’s also, as previously mentioned, really good.

There will be significant interest in Santorelli, with the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers reportedly among those teams likely to bid on him. That should help the Maple Leafs net a pretty nice return for the skilled forward.

Turning Santorelli into a decent future, whether it’s a top-90 pick or a somewhat intriguing prospect, will be an excellent spot of asset management for the Maple Leafs. Signed on the cheap to a one-year deal this summer, anything the Maple Leafs get back for Santorelli is basically just gravy.

And they’re likely to get a lot of gravy. Like, enough to offend Rob Ford. Maybe even enough to fill the crater in the mashed potato volcano that pretty much everyone I know creates at thanksgiving dinner.

If the Maple Leafs can make some shrewd moves here involving the likes of Santorelli, Cody Franson, Daniel Winnik, and maybe even Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak; they could give what could be a long rebuilding process a solid jump start. It’ll be fascinating to see what Brendan Shanahan and company can pull off. 

  • STAN

    When you set a bar, even shallow thinking hockey players can figure out that if so-and-so is paid this much, I’m worth at least that and probably a lot more.

    Clarkson: $5.25MM per… for seven years!

    Santorelli (and most other Leafs) must look at that and think, “Y’know what, unless they get rid of this guy I’d rather find a team in July, with actual cap room (thanks again Dave Nonis) that can pay me the league average, at a minimum. I’m tired of being an effective and pretty productive dude who gets NO pP time while this idiot skates around meaninglessly on most shifts… and STILL gets on the PP. WTF?”

    That’s why Santorelli and his agent are teling the Leafs to shove it.

    Same with Franson. Why would he play for $2.4MM less than Phaneuf for the net five seasons when he knows he’s better.

    • Jeremy Ian

      I agree; Nonis really mismanaged these contract negotiations. Unless there’s a clear clear difference in the performance on the ice, the stark differences in pay cheques really corrodes team collegiality. A bottom six guy’s happy to see the star make 5 times what he makes so long as the star makes the team a winner.

      That and not understanding the economics of the CBA, which is what the manager’s supposed to bring to the table, are indictments of Nonis.

    • CMpuck

      Franson is better than Phaneuf, lololololololololololololololololololololololol

      Phaneuf career >>>>>>>>> Franson

      Wake me when Franson gets a team Canada invite let alone making the team.

      Franson = Ledba

      Franson = Gorges

      Franson blows and we get a pick for him? Sell high

  • Jeremy Ian

    I’ll be sorry to see him go, as one of the few bright lights on the team this year. Getting rid of Santo, Winnik, and Franson makes sense. Also makes you cringe at what’s to come on Saturday nights.

  • Benjamin

    Easy to echo everyone’s thoughts. Sad to see him go but this is exactly what the Leafs need to do over the next few years.

    Scour the UFA bargain bin, signing low risk/ high reward 1 year deals. You create competition with the kids (hopefully) coming in and you turn them into picks at the deadline. The players get to go to a contender and get a raise in the off season.

    Players win, Leafs win.

  • CMpuck

    Franson @ somewhere around 5 million would be the upper end of what he is worth. Unfortunately someone will pay him more so he has to be moved. The prognosticators seem to point at the Niskinin deal as the comparable his agent will put forth which is a perfect example of an over payment on its own. But some GM is going to make the same dumb offer & Clarkson’s contract will look like a bargain comparably. The Leafs will get decent return on him so that will be a bonus. Hopefully Nonis is trying to peddle Kessel, Bozak, Lupul, Gardner & Robidas which would free up enough to sign players like Santorelli & Winnik, guys who have proven to be bargains this year & could be intergalactic parts going forward. Franson could be too but his exorbitant demands are not worth it. That someone believes him better than Phaneuf is laughable.