Prospect Profile: #2 Frank Corrado

Image via Matthew Henderson

Corrado’s ascent up not only prospects lists, but the organizational depth chart as well, has been a rather remarkable one. It was only a measly two years ago that he was available all the way up until the 150th overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, before the Canucks finally took him with their 5th rounder.

With hindsight being 20/20 and all, that was a gross miscalculation by all 30 teams (the Canucks included, as they could very easily be kicking themselves for taking Honzik, Grenier, LaBate, and Blomstrand before finally pulling the trigger on the Sudbury Wolves defenseman). Were we to re-draft that class today, I figure that Corrado would go somewhere in the mid-to-high teens. 

Just a few months after his draft, Corey Pronman, of ESPN Insider and Hockey Prospectus fame, assessed Vancouver’s system and put out a Top 10, in which Corrado’s name wasn’t even mentioned. Last summer, Corrado made the jump all the way up to the 3rd spot on Pronman’s list, drawing some kind words from the scout along the way. As for us, we had him ranked 7th last year, before bumping him up to number 2 this time around. Even Vin Diesel thinks that his climb has been fast, and furious.

Now, he’s the only player in our Top 5 that wasn’t brought into the system with a 1st round pick. Read on past the jump for more on the best defenseman in the team’s system.

What a year this past one was for Corrado, who laced the skates up for a game 89 different times, spanning 3 leagues (and 4 teams). Only a few months after being named captain of the Sudbury Wolves, he was traded to a stacked Kitchener Rangers squared featuring a handful of legitimate NHL prospects (Ryan Murphy, Matt Puempel, Radek Faksa, and John Gibson). I actually had the luxury of speaking to Mike Farwell, who is part of Rangers broadcasts, and obviously saw far more of Corrado than I did this past season.

Did the Rangers try to pair up Corrado and other highly touted blueline prospect, Ryan Murphy, at all? 

Frank and Ryan played together sparingly and almost exclusively on the power play. Frank was brought in as a sort of "insurance policy" should Murphy end up in the pros and stick. As you may remember, Murphy was the subject of a late season emergency call-up and Frank was certainly a good safety net at that point. I believe they were kept apart as a pairing to spread out that style of defence. The Rangers enjoyed creating off the rush and that gave the team two looks for other teams to worry about.

What would you do with Corrado this coming season if you were running the Canucks? Would you send him back to the AHL to log heavy minutes, or do you think that he’s ready to be a full-time 3rd pairing defenseman at the NHL level? Finally, what do you think about his offensive game? One thing I noticed was how efficient he was at getting the puck on net through traffic.

I have no doubt that Frank will be a pro but I think the best path for development is some AHL seasoning before making that next step. In my opinion, this approach is especially prudent when it comes to defencemen. I project him as a second pairing guy in the NHL and that would include second or first PP unit, depending on what else you have in your arsenal. Along with the knack he has for getting pucks to the net (as you note), I’d add in that his vision is extremely well-developed for a player at this level. Perhaps those two are related but watch him with the puck and how his head is ALWAYS up. Always. It’s like he’s watching the play develop as he starts from the zone and it makes his first pass among his greatest assets. As an aside, Frank is an absolute gem off the ice. Just a terrific human being. And a fan of country music, particularly Eric Church.

After the Rangers were bounced from the OHL playoffs, Corrado was assigned to the Wolves where he only played in 3 games before being called up to the Canucks. This move didn’t really surprise anyone for two reasons:

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a) With Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa both on the shelf, the team was sending the trio of Barker, Alberts, and Ballard out there. In NHL games. They clearly needed some stability on the back-end, and Corrado was worth a look.

b) Laurence Gilman had come out and labelled Corrado as a "sleeper" prospect to keep an eye on in the summer of 2012, saying that there were people in the organization that thought he could "challenge to make the NHL a lot sooner than most people think." Corrado then went on to put together a fantastic prospects camp in Penticton, and a strong showing in the preseason. If there were some out there that weren’t aware of him after all of that, they surely were once he impressed at Team Canada’s WJHC camp (before ultimately, and rather curiously, being cut from the team). His name was catching on to say the least.

I’d say that overall, he acquitted himself quite well in his first taste of NHL action. While there were certainly some bumps in the road – most notably San Jose’s winning goal in Game 1 – he didn’t look out of place for the most part, and gave fans of the team reason to be excited about his future in Vancouver.

What did seem to surprise some, however, was the fact that the team "burned" a year off of Corrado’s entry-level deal once they dressed him for the 6th time (which game in Game 3 of their series against San Jose). At the time, Thomas Drance put together a good post on the issue, including Gillis’ thoughts and comments, and I’d recommend you read it if you still have qualms. In the long run I don’t think this is something that’s going to come back to haunt the team. I thought it was the right call at the time, and I stand by it. It’s a non-issue, really.

So what’s next for Corrado? Back in July, Jeff Angus laid out the options at-hand. I don’t really think that there’s a "right" answer, and if somebody tries to tell you that there is, they’re full of it. Every player develops differently, and there isn’t an exact formula for how to approach it.

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About a month ago, when we were staring the Yannick Weber experience right in the eye, I honestly thought that we’d see Corrado start the year with the team. Given his demeanor and burgeoning skillset, I figured he’d be able to adjust on the fly and wouldn’t be set back by any potential hiccups. But then the Canucks came to terms with both Alberts and Tanev, and at this point, I think we’ll almost certainly see Corrado start the year in Utica, where he’ll be given a chance to log copious amounts of minutes.

He’s just 20 years old, and has only 16 total professional games under his belt, so some extra seasoning will likely do him some good. But with injuries being inevitable, and Andrew Alberts/Yannick Weber not being very good, expect Corrado to be up with the team sooner rather than later.

At the rate that he has been developing at over the past two years, the sky is the limit for this kid. Pronman projects Corrado as a "quality second pairing defenseman", and I agree. I feel fairly confident that barring some sort of unfortunate injury, or unforseen circumstance, he’ll be a legit top-4 defenseman in the coming years once he hits his physical peak. The bigger question, for me, is whether to go with Frank, Frankie, or Francesco? He doesn’t have a personal preference, so it’s all up to us.

Other Prospect Profiles in This Series:

  • Mantastic

    “I don’t really think that there’s a “right” answer, and if somebody tries to tell you that there is, they’re full of it.”

    These message boards have devolved into a few people only having right answers. They’ll tell you they’re right, without you even asking.

    Perhaps an idea is to have Corrado play in Utica until Christmas, then bring him up after the inevitable injuries. Even a half year playing big minutes would help evaluate him and develp him for the long run. If he is indeed on the fast track, a half year may be sufficient.

  • Mantastic

    what does that say about your team’s future if your number 2 prospect projects as top 4 d man?

    Guance probably has top 6 upside as the team’s #1 prospect. Oi! We are F’ed. Better hope the Sedins can play into their fourties.

    • Mantastic

      Shinkaruk, Horvat, and Jensen all have top-6 (potentially 1st line, even) upside. Corrado’s just at #2 because barring something catastrophic, he’s almost certainly going to live up to his potential and at this point it seems like the only question is when.

    • DCR

      What does it say? It says that the Canucks have been a very good team in the last few years. Unless you’re picking in the top 10 consistently (hello Edmonton!) due to poor play or a blockbuster trade (hi Cory!), your likelihood of getting star players is diminished. Lower draft ranking happens for a reason. Corrado was taken in the 5th round. We’re lucky to have gotten anything of value at all in that round.

      You have to get creative when your draft # is near the back.

  • DCR

    I think the big thing about Corrado is that the only question is “how high?”

    We already know he can play over 80 games a season, we already know he can play NHL playoff hockey.

  • antro

    Do you think Corrado is also insurance if Tanev isn’t signed long term next summer? Maybe Tanev can be given the Hodgson treatment and then traded for something that’s missing? Or is it too early to talk that way, and plus D are always getting injured?

  • Mantastic

    Corrado might not be a star but it looks like he will be a solid NHL D man. To be inserted into a playoff run speaks volumes.

    I think starting off in Utica is ideal and then maybe coming up in there are injuries etc. If there is room, then have him become a regular in Jan/Feb (assuming he progresses).

    Corrado is a top prospect and not out of place at #2. Others have way more upside but none of them have suited up for the Canucks and looked like they belong – Frankie has.

  • DCR

    I was shocked when down 2-0 and not being competitive, Gillis decided to burn a year of Corrados ELC. The ELC and RFA are the only years the team controls young players and they got a useless 6 games, from a teams stand point. Alberts is a good plug in guy and I’m not looking forward to watching Weber, except on PP. Gillis dropped big money on Garrison, only to have AV NOT put him on the PP and now they will pair him with either Weber or Alberts? If I’m Garrison I’m not looking forward to that. Corrado adapted well in a pressure situation at the end of the season and playoffs, so unless he has a mediocre camp, I say keep him with the team. I believe that pairing Tanev with Edler will allow Ed to be more aggressive and the same will happen with Garrison. Knowing that your partner is fundamentally sound and gets the puck out of the zone quickly allows more of a jump on the rush. Ballard was a disaster in his own zone because forwards and defense pairings had to support him too much. Not with Tanev and Corrado. Kids good let him play with the big boys and take his lumps early, not in a playoff push.