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The New Jersey Devils have signed Steven Santini to a three-year contract extension worth $1.416 million per season.
The 23-year-old defender will remain a restricted free agent when his new deal concludes. He's not UFA eligible until the summer of 2022.
Santini's NHL performance has been a mixed bag thus far, to say the least.
He appeared in 38 games during the 2016-17 season and handled himself fairly well posting a -.53 Relative Corsi For% and +1.88 Relative Expected Goals For% at 5v5. His two most frequent partners were Jon Merrill and Karl Stollery so managing respectable numbers is an achievement itself.
Santini's 2017-18 play was a lot less desirable. While his counting totals (10 points in 36 games, which averages out to be 23 over 82) were solid for a defensive minded guy, his underlying numbers were bad. Shockingly so.
As you can see, the Devils' performance absolutely cratered when Santini was on the ice.
It is worth noting he spent 400 of his 578 minutes at 5v5 with Andy Greene on the shutdown pairing. Santini went up against elite forwards for 42% of his ice, per @Woodguy55.
You'll notice that's the same number as Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty, and Ryan Suter, among others. Santini is obviously nowhere near that caliber so it's not surprising he struggled so badly.
In saying all of that, Santini's Corsi For% and Scoring Chance For% was actually *worse* when he wasn't playing with Greene on the matchup pairing (good old John Moore played a role in that).
Meanwhile, Greene's numbers were far better away from Santini. He had a 47.51 CF% and 51.22 SCF% without Santini as opposed to a 40.32 CF% 40.78 SCF% with him.
It's clear Santini was playing way above his head on the top pairing and, at this point, needs soft minutes to have a chance of being successful.
He should get a good dose moving forward with Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson firmly ahead of him on the right side.
If he can handle them, $1.416 million is a fine price. If not, the Devils aren't in a cap situation where the money would be any sort of issue.
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