Photograph by Jonathan Hayward / CP.
Mike Gillis gave Matt Sekeres and Blake Price a pretty meaty interview on the Team 1040 on Wednesday afternoon. We’ll probably pivot off of a couple of things he said today, just because there was enough content to legitimately do so, but let’s start with some choice comments Mike Gillis had on the subject of Frank Corrado and entry-level contracts.
In particular Gillis was asked if the team would be willing to burn the first year of Corrado’s entry-level contract, which because Frank Corrado didn’t turn twenty until this past spring is on schedule to "slide" so long the rookie defenceman plays in fewer than six NHL games, including playoffs, this season. His answer was definitive, so read on past the jump.
Here’s the relevant Mike Gillis quote (transcription my own, and emphasis my own too):
"Absolutely [we’d burn the first year of Corrado’s entry-level contract] we’re here to win hockey games. The consequence of burning a year for Frank isn’t going to be that much of a consequence. We’re projecting him say a guy whose going to compete for a spot on this team next year anyway. You know if he’s going to help us win hockey games he’s going to be in the lineup."
First of all, Mike Gillis is absolutely right here. If Corrado is one of your top-six available defenceman heading into any given playoff game this spring, you play him. Remember, if Corrado can help you win playoff games that’s not really "burning" a year of his entry-level deal.
The term "burning" implies that you’re not recouping proper value from it, like lighting a cigar with an old style Robert Borden. But if the player – in this case Corrado – is able to help you out in the postseason, then that’s quite probably more valuable to the Canucks than it would be to have a probable fifth or sixth defenceman on the books, for less than 600k against the cap, in a season three years down the road when the Sedin twins will be thirty-five. So yeah, it’s not like when the Oilers dithered around with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins…
Now it’s not a slam dunk that Corrado will be one of the team’s top-six defenceman at any point in time, but considering his competition includes guys like Derek Joslin and Cam Barker, it’s not really a long-shot either.
But I digress, beyond Mike Gillis’ comments on "burning" the first year of Corrado’s ELC, I found his comment: "the consequence of burning a year for Frank isn’t going to be much of a consequence" particularly telling. With the likes of Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler locked up for the next three seasons, and Chris Tanev sure to follow this summer, it seems pretty unlikely that Frank Corrado is going to be counted on to play major minutes regularly during his entry-level contract. Certainly he won’t be when everyone is healthy.
As such, even if Corrado’s entry-level contract expires when he’s twenty-two (as opposed to when he’s twenty-three) we’re probably not talking about a lot of money to sign him to his second deal anyway (presuming he’s even a regular NHLer at that point). Hell if the Habs can sign PK Subban to a two year deal worth less than three million per season for his second contract, imagine what a third pairing utility guy with nowhere near Subban’s offensive upside will go for a couple of years down the line. Maybe 1.2M?
Mike Gillis has taken some heat in the Vancouver market of late, and he’s made some moves that I think have been, or willdown the line prove to be costly (the Luongo contract, and the plethora of no-trade clauses in particular). But it’s very rare that Mike Gillis talks about managing an asset, and isn’t totally dead on. If you’re paying attention to teams and General Managers around the league, that sadly isn’t as common as one might expect…
In addition to those illuminating comments on burning Corrado’s entry level contract, Mike Gillis had this to add about Corrado’s season, development and skill set:
"Frank is a really good player, in our opinion he definitely should’ve been on the Canadian World junior team, I still don’t understand why he wasn’t when he was clearly in everyone’s estimation either the best defenceman, or one of the top two defenceman at the camp. He’s had a really strong season and does a lot of things well. He skates well, he’s got good size, and he’s got good vision. It’s only been one game but I’m not surprised he stepped in and played well."
On what sort of role we can expect to see Corrado play on the club going forward, Mike Gillis added these comments as well:
"He’ll play the next couple of games and he’s definitely going to be available to play games. Whether or not he plays regularly or not depends a lot on Chris Tanev and how long it takes him to come back, and other injuries we may face. But it’s a pretty comforting feeling knowing you have a pretty good young player who can step into the lineup, and play, and not hurt you."