While he might not sport the offensive credentials that some of his fellow defensemen in the 2013 NHL Draft class possess, U.S. NTDP defender Steve Santini has shown enough in other areas of his game to be considered a potential first round pick in this draft.
The 6'2”, 205-pound defender is wrapping up his second and final season in the NTDP, with much of his play the past two seasons taking place in the USHL. In 61 USHL contests over that span, Santini scored just one goal while adding nine assists for 10 points. Not eye-popping numbers, to be sure.
But Santini hasn't needed the gaudy offensive numbers to grab the attention of the scouts. Instead, the Mahopac, NY native has relied on a smart, steady, no frills game that places emphasis on solid defensive play to make his mark as an NHL Draft prospect.
Santini's stock has risen steadily over the course of the season, but he may have solidified his standing as a first round-caliber prospect with his play at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship. Santini was the USA's best defenseman at that tournament, and he was chosen by the IIHF as the Best Defenseman of the U18 WJC.
Santini spoke with the media, including Hockey's Future, at the 2013 NHL Combine.
Hockey's Future will be dripping out video interviews from the 2013 NHL Combine over the next few weeks as part of our coverage of the 2013 NHL Draft. You can keep up with these videos as they are released by visiting the HF home page on a regular basis, or by following the HF Twitter feed at @HockeysFuture.