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It doesn’t show up on the stat sheets, but Steven Santini has been the best defenceman for the United States National Team Development Program squad all season long. Whether it was in USHL play, or in their games against NCAA squads, or at tournaments like the 5 Nations, he’s been a rock at the backend for the squad. In fact he was named the best defencemen in the entire 2013 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, despite not scoring a single point in 7 games in that tournament. Santini was an anchor for the American squad that lost a heartbreaker to Team Canada in the Gold Medal Game, and took home the silver medal.
Next season Santini is committed to play NCAA hockey for the Boston College Eagles. Should he change his mind and decide to go the CHL route, his rights are owned by the Peterborough Petes, who drafted him in the 6th round of the 2011 OHL Draft.
Born Mar 7 1995 — Mahopac, NY
Height 6.03 — Weight 207 — Shoots Right
Santini’s true value is in his defensive game. He is extremely well developed in this aspect of his game, and a true shutdown defender. He has good size and at 6’3″ 207 lbs, has a well developed frame for an 18 year. Like nearly all prospects in this draft he could add some more muscle mass, but Santini is ahead of the game in this area. He plays a very strong physical game, clearing the front of the net, and working hard in battles along the boards. He maintains great gap control, always keeping himself between the puck and the net. Santini is a willing shotblocker. He’s also willing to lay a number of big hits if given the opportunity. Players need to keep their heads up if coming down Santini’s side of the ice, as he’s been known to throw some very punishing hits. Those who try to sneak by Santini along the boards have to be fearful as he is capable of making them pay the price.
Santini is a great skater. His straight line speed both forwards and backwards is excellent. He has a good first step and excellent acceleration based on compact, powerful stride. He has great edgework and pivots, and his strong agility allows him to quickly change direction and cover a ton of ice. The skating skill gives him the ability to be a top notch defender.
Santini’s offensive game is massively underdeveloped. He has a good first pass in his own end, but is not likely to lead or join the rush. He is also not much of a playmaker in the offensive zone as he is more likely to dump the puck into an open corner than to use the patience and poise required to make a play at the blueline. He does have a low and hard slap shot, but he really doesn’t utilize it enough.
Santini plays a style similar to Brooks Orpik. This is a stylistic comparison and not based on potential though. In terms of ceiling, Santini has the skills to be a top 4 defender, and play big minutes in a shut down role. However it is highly unlikely he will ever be a valuable offensive contributor.
Check back tomorrow for our number 40 prospect.
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