He’d like that number to increase quite a bit this season.
And he might have a shot, as President and General Manager Jim Rutherford has said he expects Saguinetti to compete for a spot on the Canes’ defense come training camp.
“With the year I had last year, I kind of set myself up for a good opportunity here,” Sanguinetti said. “I’m just going to try to run with it. I put the summer training in, and I’m ready to go now.”
The year he had last year was indeed productive, as the Trenton, NJ, native posted career highs in goals (10), assists (40) and points (50) in 60 games with the Charlotte Checkers. He finished second on the team in scoring behind forward Chris Terry and ranked third among all AHL defensemen in assists and points.
Just a season prior, he appeared in only 31 games with Charlotte, as he was sidelined for four months with a hip injury that required surgery. Sixteen games into a slow-starting 2011-12 season, Sanguinetti went down again with a broken foot, causing him to miss 10 games. Down the stretch, however, he was old reliable.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to skate like that,” he said. “That confidence, that swagger when you’re out on the ice knowing that you’re going to make something happen every shift and you’re going to be good at both ends of the ice, that was a big stepping stone for me in playing in all scenarios.”
Sanguinetti recorded 18 points (3g, 15a) in his last 12 games, figuring in on the scoresheet in all but one game. On April 13 in Peoria, he notched four points with a goal and three assists, matching a career-best from 2009.
“I was healthy and able to get some confidence going. It kind of all rolled from there,” he said. “When you’re in the lineup, you’re not missing games, you’re practicing hard and you’re feeling good, you get on a roll. Things just start clicking, and you feel good about yourself. A lot of it is mental, and that’s sports for you.”
Another mental boon was the expedience in which Sanguinetti was re-signed by Carolina in the offseason. The 24-year-old defenseman agreed to a one-year contract in late May, and though it’s two-way, he’s hoping to spend as much time as possible with the big club.
Sanguinetti made his NHL debut with the Rangers in 2009. It wasn’t until March that he saw NHL action again, this time in a Hurricanes sweater. Fittingly, his first game took place at Madison Square Garden versus the team that drafted him 21st overall in 2006.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was awesome to play the first game in New York back where I started my NHL career. It makes you want more, and I’m trying to get back there now.”
Sanguinetti had 9:39 ice time that night and would play more than 12 minutes in each of the team’s next two games before being reassigned to Charlotte for the balance of the season.
Still, the front office was pleased with the glimpse they got, and that drove Sanguinetti’s summer training routine to be the best it has ever been.
“I cranked it up,” he said. “You’ve got that extra motivation to stick here all year. You do everything you can to make sure you’re in top shape and ready to go, and that’s what I did.”
Now, Sanguinetti is among the group of about 15 Hurricanes players that has been skating at RCI for the last seven days. He’s enjoying the pre-training camp skates, even if the coming weeks hold a fair amount of uncertainty.
“When you come in early and you’re working with some of the best players in the league, it’s good for you,” he said. “It makes you work hard, and it pushes you more when you see how hard they work. It’s a good thing we’ve got going here.”
In any case, Sanguinetti vows to be ready for the Hurricanes training camp, whenever that may be.
“I want to prove myself at this level,” he said.