Boston College junior defenseman Steve Santini is one of the leaders on the Eagles blueline who has also developed into one of the nation’s top defensemen. He is also one of three New Jersey Devils prospects on the Eagles roster.
While Santini is primarily a defensive defenseman, he nevertheless made strides in his offensive game in 2015-16. The Mahopac, NY native produced one goal and 19 points in 40 games, a 14-point improvement over his 2014-15 showing. Perhaps more importantly for a defensively oriented player, Santini’s plus/minus rating went from a -2 last season to a +24 rating this season.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Santini after practice on Wednesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL to talk about being a mentor and developing as a Devils prospect.
Hockey’s Future: You guys are back here again since your freshman year two years ago. Is it better this time around?
Steve Santini: Yeah, I think so. It’s nice to be back (in the Frozen Four). It’s always a great experience being one of the last four teams standing. But at the same time, we want to take care of business this time because we didn’t in Philly. There are four great teams here so I think it’s going to be a fun event.
HF: You’ve become one of the leaders on the blueline for the team. I know that you’ve been partnered with freshman Michael Kim this season. How has that been for you being thrust into sort of a mentoring role, especially with someone who is your defensive partner?
SS: Well first off, Michael’s a great kid. He came in (to the program) and I think everything happened so fast for him. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it was for him in the second semester and then to have it sink in going through admissions and things like that. I’m really proud of the way he’s handled it. He’s a great kid and works extremely hard. He’s focused and wants to be good. I think we both complement each other really well, and it’s been really fun playing with him this semester.
HF: How has playing with Michael benefited you?
SS: I think we bring out the best in each other. He’s a little bit more defensive-minded so that allows me to jump up into the play and create some more offense. Mike is a strong kid and he’s a good teammate. He’s coachable and always listens. I have fun playing with him everyday and I just think that we really enjoy playing with each other.
HF: Is being able to create more offense the one area that you feel you have improved the most in?
SS: I do. I think if you look at my three years here (at Boston College), my development with the puck has improved a lot. I have more confidence with the puck, and not just statistically speaking. I think that I have more confidence in making better decisions with the puck and that’s helped me to become a better two-way guy.
HF: Did you attend the Devils’ development camp over the summer?
SS: I did. I attended them the last few summers.
HF: What is the greatest thing(s) that you learned from that camp that has helped make you a better player with Boston College this season?
SS: I think just what it takes to be great at that (NHL) level. It’s definitely different than what it takes to be great at this level. At the NHL and even AHL level, the guys think faster and are a lot stronger, so I think the camp exposed me to what the competition is going to be like and what it’s going to take to be successful at the next level.
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