Frank Corrado is doing everything he should to work his way into the Leafs’ future


The above tweet currently sits pinned at the top of Frank Corrado’s twitter profile. It was posted the same day the Vancouver Canucks placed the defenceman on waivers. 

Corrado’s move to the Leafs over the next 24 hours wasn’t really an overly notable one in the grand scheme of things in the NHL. A 2011 5th round pick claimed off waivers from Vancouver, it was perhaps surprising why Vancouver waived him in the first place, but still far from a blockbuster move. Floating between the Marlies and Leafs lineups as well as frequent nights in the Air Canada Centre press box as a healthy scratch, Corrado sat in limbo for the early part of his Leafs’ career. 

In mid-November, Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said this:

“Frankie’s a great kid. He’s committed. He works hard every day,” Lamoriello said. “His time will come, and then it will be up to him to make the most of that opportunity.”

Corrado wasn’t happy in Vancouver, and he’s not looking to hide it. After his new team’s victory over the Canucks on Saturday, Corrado once again publicly displayed his displeasure with his former team, and his loyalty to the Maple Leafs. 

Back to that pinned tweet. Later in October, Corrado said this about his response.

“I feel on these social media platforms, we all have a voice. As hockey players, I feel like we’re kind of the most vanilla of all the athletes and we don’t really say much that’s really meaningful,” he said. “That was just something I was kind of going through and I felt like that was something I needed to get off my chest. It’s healthy, right? To sometimes just voice how you feel and with an audience like that, it’s nice to get that out there.”

Corrado’s feeling on his time in Vancouver were mixed. Including a previously unreported separated shoulder, he went into further detail here about the issues he had with fitting into the Canucks system. (Scroll down to “Best Revelation”. Hat tip to Steve Dangle for the tweet).

And even while Corrado wasn’t playing, he was still part of the plan in Toronto. They wanted him at the NHL level for this year. Right before he made his debut in mid-December, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said this: 

“When we talk about how hard it is (for Corrado not to play), it sounds like he’s not in the NHL every day and not getting paid and not flying on the nice plane,” said Babcock on Saturday. “I have a hard time feeling sorry for guys playing in the National Hockey League myself. Now, do you have a better lot in life if you’re playing 20 minutes a night? Absolutely. But if you work hard and you compete hard and you do good things, even coaches catch on after a while.”

When Corrado finally did get that chance, he probably wasn’t the only one excited to make it to the Leafs roster. A Vaughan native, the move was a dream come true for Corrado’s family.

In his 12 games so far, Corrado’s picked up three assists. 

But ever since that debut night, he’s been a one-man shooting gallery. Of all defencemen in the league to play at least 50 minutes this year, he’s had the 4th most individual shot attempts/60 minutes. When he’s on the ice, the Leafs have generated 37.5 shots on net/60 minutes- 3rd amongst defencemen of the same parameter, and more than 7 shots/60 than the Leafs usually generate. And like our Managing Editor Justin Fisher pointed out on Twitter the other day, largely due to his heavy shooting rate, he’s leading the NHL in Corsi percentage right now. Defensively, he’s been extremely impressive as well- 16th in the league amongst defenceman in regards of on-ice shot attempts against/60.

(All data from stats.hockeyanalysis.com)

Admittedly, this sample size is incredibly small, and not really reflective of his career in Vancouver. Perhaps it’s even too early to be talking about. But still, It’s no easy task to fire off as many pucks as Corrado’s been doing in the NHL. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. Right now, there’s almost no one controlling the point at a rate like Corrado. 

Will Corrado’s numbers slow down? Sure. Is it translating into tons of goals? No, not really. But does it bode well for his future in Toronto? Absolutely, and you can bet the Leafs management group has been taking notice. 

A $700,000 RFA deal expiring after this season, it would be interesting to see what Corrado could do over the course of a full year. Have a gander at the Leafs’ defensive future – Roman Polak is all but gone, perhaps in the next few weeks. Matt Hunwick is 30 and just on the roster to eat up minutes. I wrote about Martin Marincin’s value earlier in the year, and recent acquisition Jared Cowen… well, Ottawa was just dying to get rid of him. It’s unlikely he stays with the Leafs after his contract expires, and maybe he’ll even get bought out. Then there’s the mystery surrounding Stephane Robidas’ injury, and whether or not he’ll retire.

Meanwhile, Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly are both locks for the team’s future, despite somehow finding themselves in trade rumours all the time. That leaves a few spots left, and you bet Corrado is going to be fighting to get one of those.

Corrado’s never going to be headlining the free agent market, in all likelihood. He’ll probably never be an elite defender –  he’s played under 50 NHL games by the age of 22, and he’s not even a true regular on one of the worst teams in the league. To most NHL GMs, that probably doesn’t scream must-have asset. 

But for now, with this rebuilding project, he fits in well with Toronto. A cheap option with a good skill set, and one that can drive the play towards the opposition net. The outlook of the Leafs next year is still unwritten, but it’s not the worst idea to keep this Corrado kid around.

And look, he’s just dying to stick here and wear that new logo. Yes, the idea of trying to find the hometown hero has hampered the Leafs in the past. (See Clarkson, David), but Corrado is different. He’s not trying to be a superstar or a saviour or a face of a franchise. He’s just someone shooting the puck as much as he can while giving 110% and trying to play his way into the team’s future when he’s been outcasted elsewhere.

Give the (relatively young) kid a chance, and renew his (relatively cheap) contract. Let’s see what else he can do in the Maple Leaf uniform. It couldn’t hurt.

  • JB#1

    As he’s been playing more, I must say I have been noticing him more – in a good way.

    He’s never going to be a top-4 D-man but could fit in nicely in the 5-7 range.

    Most likely, he will eventually be lapped by some of the current or future Leafs’ D-men prospects, but he’s here now and can play at the NHL level. Until they prove otherwise, prospects are just prospects.

    All the best Frankie!

  • jimithy

    Had read Steve Dangle’s tweet but did not make sense of it until now. After asking a player to play with a dislocated shoulder and a broken hand (at different times) during the playoffs, it sure sounds like there are a lot of people in Canucks management pushing their agenda when it comes to player selection and hockey operations, which is a pity. As a Leafs fan, I sure am glad that we benefited from that! Corrado looks like a competent 3rd pairing guy who can fill in higher when required.

  • ushaped

    After learning he had played in last years playoffs hurt and had spent the majority of his time after getting picked up by the Leafs training and making up for the lack of training camp, it looks to me that Corrado is a character player who is also pretty mature in outlook. I think he could potentially become another young veteran like Reilly and Gardner that D prospects can learn from.

  • ushaped

    That “The Province” article linked to from “he went into further detail here about the issues” is such a mess. Jason Botchford… how does this guy have a job and even appear on TSN? He’s barely literate.

  • Gary Empey

    I won’t comment on Frank Corrado.

    Anyone who watched last nights game they must of noticed Toronto’s defense corp needs major improvement. I wouldn’t put all the blame on the defense but when you go down 7 zip something is seriously wrong.

  • SEER

    He’s a work in profreess.., just like many, many other younger NHL D-men.. It’s a tougher position to play, than Forward… Give him a little more time and we will see how fast he can transform..

    Frankie Goes To Toronto: Frankie Corrado Montage – TML 2015-16

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3K2RGEVIWA

    —————————————

    ..and I just recently passed the 1,000,000 view count on my You-Tube Channel.., so I decided to take an extra big project on these past four days… and put this together for everyone.., since our Marlies are the best thing to happen here in a long, long time..,…!

    ..ALL goals.. from the first 50 MARLIES games.. : ) Save it to your collection, for prosperity..

    Hockey Gods Gifts: Toronto Marlies First 50 Games Highlights – 2015-16

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9c8kzU2xpw

  • Benjamin

    i love the way he plays. i’ve seen him pinching deep in the offensive zone A LOT. unlike phaneuf, he always seems to know when to pinch and when to stay back. he’s smart, aggressive in a great way, tough along the boards. i like him. why the canucks got rid of him, i will never understand. he could be a great option for them right now… love how he shoots a lot as well. i hope he sticks around. i like his game and i like his attitude.

  • jimithy

    He’s done nothing since he’s been allowed to play a game. When is he gonna do something in order to be someone, other than making tweets about stuff that have nothing to do with winning and being a good player. Anybody can tweet.