Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
— Frank Corrado (@frankcorrado22) October 5, 2015
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.
You know your family grew up Leafs fans when your sister wears a Gilmour jersey instead of your own pic.twitter.com/xnaoBl90Qk
— The Tank Nation (@TLNdc) December 16, 2015
In his 12 games so far, Corrado’s picked up three assists.
(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.
As a lifelong Leafs fan I am loving that new logo! It’s an honor and privilege to wear the Maple Leaf every day. #TMLtalk
— Frank Corrado (@frankcorrado22) February 3, 2016
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.