Canucks’ Frank Corrado yo-yoed back to Utica

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Frank Corrado’s timing has been brutal this season.

The talented 21-year-old defender, a pending restricted free agent, was reassigned once again to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League on Thursday. It’s the fifth time this season that he’s been reassigned, and the second time this month. 

Read past the jump.

Though Corrado has played mostly solid hockey in 10 NHL appearances this year – he’s the third best defender on the team by 5-on-5 unblocked shot differential – the club has been outscored two-to-10 with him on the ice in all situations. That’s an ugly number, but it’s one that tells us more about the goaltending when Corrado has been on the ice, then it does about his play. 

Meanwhile the young blue liner missed 12 games to injury in February, during a stretch when seemingly every Canucks defender – including right-handed shooting minutes munchers like Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieka – went down. 

If there was ever going to be an opportunity during the life of his entry-level contract for Corrado to establish himself as a bona fide, everyday NHL blue-liner, that was it. Injuries prevented him from taking advantage, and instead Yannick Weber shone in a top-pairing role alongside Dan Hamhuis. 

It isn’t unusual for a young defenseman to get lost on an NHL depth chart at Corrado’s age, and based on his results at both the AHL and NHL level this season, he remains a very promising young player. 

It would seem that Corrado is going to have an uphill battle to establish himself as an everyday defenseman in Vancouver though. With Bieksa signed through next year, pending restricted free agents like Adam Clendening, Tanev and Weber likely to return, and the club reportedly leaning towards re-signing Luca Sbisa – who has played over 300 5-on-5 minutes on his off side this year – Corrado is facing a logjam on the right half of Vancouver’s blue-line. 

At least he’ll have a chance to show Canucks brass what he’s capable of in the upcoming Calder Cup playoffs. Perhaps he’ll even get an opportunity to shadow recent signed Canucks defense prospect Ben Hutton, who signed a professional tryout with the Utica Comets on Thursday and has been added to the roster according to the AHL transaction page.

  • Dirty30

    At 21 the concern of Corrado getting lost seems a bit premature for a D-man who is coming off an injury and whose contemporaries didn’t exactly blow him out of the water.

    Depth on D is not a bad situation and competition among peers to succeed adds a positive as well.

    The concern is skill among the D-men and that there’s not one who is a game changer — who can take control of the back end and make a significant change in the flow of the game. Or shut things down, or score or make opposition dread stepping on the ice.

    Corrado may however be more of a victim of management politics if there is a bias against anyone that ever met ex GMMG.

    That’s poor management and that’s a different story.

    • Dirty30

      Yes they are — but look at Edler on his own and it’s obvious the impact Tanev has … But then Tanev alone faces a lot of pressure because his pairings aren’t great. So Tanev-Edler are more than the sum of their parts but that’s as a pair.

      And I was comparing Corrado more to what’s coming up with him or below him not what’s in front of him in the roster.

  • Dirty30

    Really poor development with so many prospects his year. Josh has been talking about usage in Utica all year and Corrado has spent half his season as a healthy scratch in Vancouver. He should get his chance next year – behind Tanev, there’s no obvious 2nd best right hander. Although Willie seems to have some serious trust issues with young players, so unless Corrado is forced on him from above (like Horvat and even Kassian to an extent when they couldn’t trade him) he may not get the chance at all.

  • Fred-65

    Frankly Corrado is a player that seems to be regressing rather than getting better. When he played in play-offs a couple of years ago he looked way better than he is now IMO. If i was Corrado/agent I’d be looking for other opportunities. Maybe he’ll be moved at the draft, a second round pick. Better a player you know than a gamble on a plyer who may or may not become a NHL player.

  • Dirty30

    If Corrado is waiver eligible next season (and I think he is?) then the Canucks have a real bind and will have to do something before the draft, trade wise.

    They will have 5 right-sided defencemen who are waiver eligible who would not clear.

    That means that someone is going to have to be traded or they’ll be lost for nothing…

    • I believe Corrado is waiver exempt next season, although bear in mind that I’m just a layman who covers the league.

      It’s a bit of a tricky case bc though the Canucks pressed start on his ELC by playing him for 7 games in 2013, I’m not sure that season was sufficient to press “start” on his accruing seasons for the purpose of requiring regular waivers for reassignment.

      Generally a 19-year-old signee (Corrado signed at 18 but slid a year) is waiver exempt for four years or until he plays 160 NHL games. That four years is shortened to three “commencing the first season that the 18 or 19 year old skater plays in eleven (11) NHL
      Games or more.” Well Corrado didn’t appear in ten games until 2013-14 (even though his ELC strated), which – based on my reading – could mean he’s waiver exempt through this year and next.