Marchenko an upgrade to Toronto’s roster, so long as he plays

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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their roster a bit today, claiming Alexey Marchenko from the Detroit Red Wings and waiving Frank Corrado to make room for him. There are a lot of differing opinions here on both of these players, but the logical end conclusion here is pretty straight forward; the move is a worthwhile one, on the condition that Marchenko is playing regular minutes.

Marchenko is an interesting player. He’s not offensively driven, but he’s mobile and he’s not afraid of making brash decisions. He’s not small at 6’3 tall, 210 pounds in weight, and he’s an ever-so-valued right handed shot. But he’s fallen out of favour in the Red Wings’ lineup this year, playing about 18 minutes a night and producing just six points in 30 games with most of his time spent on a pair with Jonathan Ericsson.

Alas, given the immense amount of sketpicism surrounding Ericsson (and the Red Wings in general), many putting up depth offensive numbers and team-neutral possession numbers in an out-of-favour situation isn’t the worst result in the world for a 25-year-old defensive defenceman still finding his groove in the NHL.

Not to mention, the bar that he has to eclipse here is Roman Polak, a defenceman who isn’t overly mobile, shows his aggressive side in finishing checks rather than gap control, gives up more shots than any Leafs defenceman when he’s on the ice, doesn’t score, and while he’s effective in spurts on the penalty kill, he also has the worst penalty differential on the team. While filling his spot with another top-grade defenceman would be nice, even a slight improvement is welcome when you’re trying to make your team better now with now-aged players.

I’m still a believer that Frank Corrado, if given time to find his groove. But you can only sing that tune for so much time, and as much as I would’ve liked it if Mike Babcock would’ve had a change of heart, it clearly wasn’t going to happen. At a certain point,  two years of continuous scratches are a pretty insurmountable degree of distrust, and February in a playoff push probably isn’t the time to give a guy a multi-game stretch of artificial preseason.

I do believe a team would be wise to pick Corrado up. I think he brings more to an NHL roster than the Leafs have given him credit for, and that if you’re a rebuilding team that doesn’t have much of a chance for the rest of the year (looking at you, Colorado and Arizona), you might get a surprise asset, or at least some flexibility to move another one of your veterans. But it wasn’t going to happen here.

Marchenko, on the other hand, could happen here. He only played fourteen games in the Babcock era for Detroit, but the now-Toronto bench boss was a big fan, even comparing calling him up to a trade deadline acquisition. In that small sample, Marchenko played his best hockey, both generating more shots and giving up fewer than the teammates around him.

Interestingly, his most frequent linemate under Babcock was Brendan Smith, a player I mentioned as a potential acquisition for the Leafs thanks to his play style, contract status, and expected cost. Granted, my ideal supplemental Red Wing for him was Mike Green, not Marchenko, but if Matt Hunwick and/or Martin Marincin aren’t fits on his left side, spinning back to Smith could be a real option at the right price.

What’s important first, though, is that he plays at all. This can’t turn into another Corrado situation where he waits for his moment. Marchenko, while likely not a superstar, is better than the depth defencemen that are playing now, and he has a theoretical level of trust in his old-is-new-again coach, so it’s imperative that he gets a chance to get regular minutes sooner or later for this move to make any sense.

Also of note

  • Marchenko is 70/40 Eligible already, meaning that the Leafs don’t necessarily have to hold on to Martin Marincin as expansion draft exposure fodder. I like Marincin a little more than most, but having this flexibility is nice.
  • For more on Marchenko, occasional network contributor Andrey Osadchenko had a quality piece on Wings Nation where he spoke to him last year. You can check that out here.
  • You can also check out Wings Nation’s reaction to the news here.
  • Brent Wisken

    Good article, and I like the acquisition of Marchenko. Looks like an upgrade to our bottom-pairing defensemen, and it leaves open the possibility of flipping Polak at the trade deadline for a draft pick. Marchenko plays the PK as well, and he knows Babcock’s system. As for Corrado, although i think he can be a decent #5 or #6 d-man, it’s good to see him finally put on waivers so he can either develop on the Marlies or have the opportunity to play elsewhere. It was obvious there was no inclination for Babcock to play him on the Leafs, and the 23 year old kid was just sitting in the press box rather than developing. Perhaps Arizona, Colorado, or even Vancouver might claim him.

    • LukeWarmWater

      Wisken I think Polak could be a yearly event for the leafs where they pick up a draft pick. Very good chance they move him at the trade dead line. Regarding Frankie, the Canucks also froze his ass up in the press box and then put him on waivers.

      Got to like Marchenko’s size as well As I said numerous times quite conceivably the only current defencemen that will be with the team in two or three years are Rielly and our fine Russian comrade. Gardiner might be used as trade bait down the road, although he has had his best year this season, although along with the rest of the defence is in a slump as the big bruising forwards start baring down harder on him and cough, cough, cough goes the puck.

      • Brent Wisken

        The only reason i mentioned Vancouver is because i remembered GM Jim Benning saying to TSN radio about Corrado, “We didn’t want him sitting around and not playing. But we’ll see what happens. I’ve been watching what’s going on with him in Toronto, so we’ll see what happens with that”. Benning said Vancouver would “look at things” if he ever becomes available, and also said, “I can’t comment on another team’s player, but usually when you pick up a player you play him. But that’s their business and i don’t want to get into what they do”.

        That was back in December 2015, and obviously things might have changed since then. Not sure if Vancouver is still interested, but i just recalled this interview. The link is here: http://www.tsn.ca/canucks-b

  • LukeWarmWater

    Every late December there are a gazillion polls as to what was the best and worst of the year. One of the more amusing ones which is often used in commercials to down cast competing companies as being boring and repetitious is that summer tune that was played a gazillion times. Usually a bumble gum song for the pre teens. So yeah Jeff you nailed it the Frankie Corrado tune was indeed over sung again and again and again and again. He couldn’t crack two of the top 5 worst teams in last year’s draft.

    Sorry Frankie just to quote Paul Pierce didn’t have it.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Alexey Marchenko
    Defense
    Born Jan 2 1992 — Moscow, Russia
    [25 yrs. ago]
    Height 6.03 — Weight 210

    2016-17 Detroit Red Wings in 30 games he has scored 0 goals and has 6 assists -12 minutes in penalties.

    From Hockey’s Future. – 2011

    Talent Analysis

    Marchenko is a very aggressive player, a strong skater, and one who projects long term as more of a defensive defenseman. He put up points in the lower levels, however his style of play is more suited to a shut down, physical role than one of a player who will excel offensively. There is some scoring ability, as evidence by his MHL totals, but it’s not the defining trait of his game. Has shown an increased ability to read plays and make breakout passes from his own zone.

    Projected Future

    Marchenko had a 12-game stint with the Red Wings, scoring his first NHL goal; spending most of the 2014-15 season with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. While his offensive game is limited, he appears close to being an NHL regular in the near future. Long-term Marchenko projects to being a sound middle pairing defensive defender who can contribute to the attack at times.

    • Stan Smith

      LukeDaDrifter you either read my mind, or saw my post on editorinleaf. I could see Marchenko moving in alongside Gardiner, with Carrick joining either Hunwick, or Marincin, watching the game. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, just that it could. One thing I don’t see is Marchenko replacing Polak. If Polak is dealt at the deadline, maybe, but I don’t think Babcock is going to sit Polak. But, then I’ve been wrong before.

      • LukeDaDrifter

        If one speculated on who would play the right side on the bottom six next year Marchenko looks to be the one. I can see him moving in and out of the lineup this year. I like the fact he is considered a strong skater and can make good breakout passes. I think the Leafs would like to be the fastest team in the League.We have the forwards who can breakout at warp speed.

        • LukeWarmWater

          Brother Luke any time a defencemen at 6 foot 3 and 210 lbs. has listed as an attribute his skating ability, well that is a big plus for the guy. Obviously he needs to improve his game with experience.

          I’m not sure if we will get a wrap up of tonight’s barn burner but I got to remember that Jeff is a young man most likely out there partying on a Saturday night. Who knows Elton John might come up with a song about that concept. So needless to say our leafs kick the fading , deteriorating, senior citizen Bruins for the third straight time.

          Now what was most impressive was yeah, yeah the defence was non existent for the third game in a row but they shoved that little piece of rubber right up where the sun doesn’t shine on those freaking refs and took care of business. Now there is another song that Randy Bachman and his old B.T.O. teammates might come up with about taking care of business.

          Always great to win in bean town and even better to watch Carey Price having to shrug those shoulders as he got out played again and the Habs lose another close one, although I think the empty net goal should have counted. I am going to bring in the Sacramento King score keepers to analyse that last second shot of the puck into the yawning empty Habs net. Habs have been a slightly over 500 team since their hot start at the beginning of the season.
          Raptor fans will get what I’m talking about.

  • jimithy

    I only read the title so therefore i have all the information I need. First of all; the title is misleading and deceptive because Corrado has played 2 games has no points and 2 shots, this is unacceptable in 2017. Marchenko has none of that therefore is a welcome addition.