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.