December 13 2012 09:26AM
Frank Corrado pushes Hunter Shinkaruk into goaltender Tyler Binnington during the Red v. White scrimmage on Tuesday.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Todd Korol
Vancouver hockey fans haven't had any Canucks-related hockey to cheer about for seven and a half months, so it's understandable why the die-hards (myself included) are beginning to feel somewhat stir-crazy. To compound that issue, the possible remedies like, following a moribund Vancouver Giants team or a Chicago Wolves team that plays at a snails pace, are generally pretty unsatisfying.
That could all change later this evening however, because it appears that 19 year old two-way defenseman and Canucks prospect Frank Corrado, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 whose stock has soared over the past sixteen months, might make Team Canada's World Junior Championship team. A Canucks prospect, playing on Team Canada's World Junior Team, to root for over the Christmas holidays? That's the hockey-itch equivalent of Goldbond powder.
So what are Corrado's chances of actually making the team? I figured this was a topic worth spilling some digital ink over, so read on past the jump!
When Team Canada's selection camp opened and Corrado was selected to attend (along with 12 other defenseman, almost all of whom are former first round picks) he was somewhat of a surprise inclusion. While he represented himself (and the OHL) well at the Subway Super Series game against Russia in November, partnering with Dougie Hamilton and scoring the game winning goal, he nonetheless appeared to be a long-shot to make the team. But this week in Calgary, Corrado has done just about everything he could've possibly done to force his way onto Team Canada's roster.
On Tuesday, the junior team candidates were split into two teams and played a "Red versus White" game, that could more accurately be described as a scrimmage (since it included practice components like simulated special teams situations). Corrado was on team Red and with the clock winding down in the third period, he snuck a slap shot past Malcolm Subban for the game-winning tally for the Red team.
On Wednesday, the team Canada brass scratched all of the "shoe-ins," while the rest of the bubble players - including Corrado - faced off against CIS players in a game that the Canadian juniors lost soundly. Frank Corrado, however, was among the few brightspot on the Canadian junior side and again managed to score a goal. After the game, Corrado avoided the first round of cuts as the pool of blueline candidates was whittled down to ten, with Derrick Pouliout and Adam Pelech (Mike Gillis' nephew) being sent home early.
Now, with guys like Matt Dumba and Ryan Murphy also competing for a spot on team Canada's roster, it's not like Corrado was going to make the team based on his offensive skills, but those two goals - surprising as they were, even to Corrado - can't possibly have hurt his chances.
There are now ten defenseman remaining at the selection camp, and seven spots available on team Canada's roster; but realistically that's not the way the competition is breaking down. Four defenseman are mortal locks at this point (Dougie Hamilton, Scott Harrington, Maxim Ouellet and Morgan Rielly), which leaves six guys (Corrado, Griffin Reinhardt, Ryan Sproule, Tyler Wotherspoon, Matthew Dumba and Ryan Murphy) competing for the three reamining blue-line roster spots.
My sense of it is that Ryan Murphy, who has been twice previously cut by Team Canada, should be a slamdunk to finally make the team. Beyond that it's anyones guess, but where I saw Corrado as a long-shot earlier in the week, I'm now beginning to think that he may have a legitimate shot at making the team. I spoke briefly with Sunaya Sapurji, Yahoo Sportss Junior Hockey editor who has been in Calgary covering the selection camp this week, and she seems to agree:
"[Corrado's chances of making the team are] definitely better than they were when he came to camp, and I think he's opened a lot of eyes with his play. Everyone talks about his play defensively, but he's shown some great offense leading the camp in scoring which is definitely a big surprise when you look at the kind of players Team Canada has here. He's done a great job.
Steve Spott, for the past couple of days, has been talking about opportunity and players who need to use this opportunity to really earn a spot. I think Corrado is one of those players who has gone out there and made the most of every shift."
Also, when I asked Sunaya how Corrado has performed in comparison with Ryan Murphy and Matthew Dumba (two other highly touted right-side defensemen, and Corrado's main competition) she thought his performance compared favorably with what those two have shown: "I think Corrado's probably out-paced Dumba, whereas Murphy has kind of been on and off. I don't think either of those two players have blown anyone away, but Corrado has been solid." Good news!
If Corrado does make the team that's gravy, both for his development and for Canucks fans who would have a Canucks-angle to root for at this year's World Junior Championship tournament in Ufa. Realisically, even if Corrado is among those players cut this evening, that he's shown so well on this stage is a very positive sign and he's certainly got a bright future in professional hockey regardless.
Not to shabby for the 150th player off the board at the 2011 NHL Entry draft...