Canucks reassign Frank Corrado to Utica

The Vancouver Canucks have reportedly reassigned defenseman Frank Corrado to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, according to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

Corrado, 21, hasn’t played since sustaining an injury on Feb. 1st, though he’s been solid and effective in his seven games at the NHL level this season.

It would seem that Corrado will actually report to Utica and play some games for the Comets, so this isn’t just a paper transaction. Those so-called ‘paper transactions’ will likely be coming down on Monday though, as the club is expected to stack the Comets’ roster for their upcoming Calder Cup playoff run ahead of Monday’s AHL playoff eligibility deadline.

The playoff eligibility deadline is relatively new – it replaced the old Clear Day roster structure following the 2012-13 NHL lockout. The way it works, as I understand it, is that only players on the AHL roster at the time the NHL trade deadline passes are eligible to compete in the league for the rest of the year. This includes the postseason.

There are a few exceptions, like players who sign professional tryout deals or CHL players once their major junior season ends. Anyway, because Corrado was reassigned before the deadline, he’ll be eligible to play for the Comets in the Calder Cup playoffs.

This is where it gets a bit tricky. The Canucks are permitted to recall four players from the AHL – for non-emergency reasons – after the trade deadline, and these are the transactions that are usually of the paper variety. Teams can pick a maximum of four players, most often these players are waiver exempt, and assign them to the AHL with a paper transaction right before the trade deadline passes. This preserves their eligibility for the Calder Cup playoffs, and these players are often immediately recalled once their eligibility is locked in.

You can read more about this process from Texas Stars writer Sean Shapiro

There are a handful of Canucks players who the team would surely like to see compete in the Calder Cup playoffs, including Brandon McMillan, Ronalds Kenins, Alex Biega, Jacob Markstrom(*), and Adam Clenndening. 

(*) Note: admittedly I’m not really sure how the rules apply to a player like Markstrom, who was recalled by the Canucks before the deadline on an emergency basis. 

In the wake of Corrado’s bona fide reassignment, could the Canucks still paper four players down to Utica and leave Corrado in the AHL – unless there’s another run of injuries – for the balance of the season? 

It’ll be interesting to see how the club manages this deadline, particularly because strengthening the Comets has seemed to be an organizational priority for Vancouver this season.