Leafs send Frank Corrado down to Marlies on Conditoning Stint

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a sudden and, to some, startling move, sending defenceman Frank Corrado to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. The move is a temporary one, and is being labelled as a conditioning stint.

News of Corrado’s assignment came earlier this afternoon courtesy of Kyle Cicerella, who spotted the 22-year-old practicing with the Marlies this morning. This news surprised many, as Corrado is not waiver-exempt in any way, shape or form. In fact, his waiver requirements are the entire reason that he’s property of the Leafs to begin with, having been claimed a few weeks ago from the Vancouver Canucks.

Seeing “conditioning stint” attached to Corrado’s name surprised many people, given the fact that there’s been no indication of any injury to him since arriving in Toronto. With that said, using a conditioning stint to get a player ready for NHL game situations isn’t unprecedented. Most teams are already six or seven games in, and Corrado hasn’t played a meaningful game since joining the Utica Comets on their spring playoff run.

Here’s what the CBA says about everything:

13.8 Conditioning Loan. Unless a Player consents, he shall not be Loaned on a Conditioning Loan to a minor league club. Such Conditioning Loan shall not extend for more than fourteen (14) consecutive days. The Commissioner may take whatever steps he deems necessary toinvestigate the circumstances under which a Player is Loaned on a Conditioning Loan. 

If the Commissioner has reason to believe or determines that the Club has used the Conditioning Loan to evade Waivers, or otherwise Circumvent any provision of this Agreement, he may take such disciplinary action against the Club, as he deems appropriate. The Player shall continue, during the period of such Conditioning Loan, to receive the same Paragraph 1 NHL Salary, and be entitled to the same benefits, that he would have received had he continued to play with the Club.

The immediate concern is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to circumvent waivers to get Corrado on the Marlies. I don’t believe that to be the case; all of the Marlies’ defencemen, save for Petter Granberg (who technically hasn’t been sent down yet), are healthy. They’re already running with a surplus of players, as proven by James Martin’s lack of appearance in the first two weekends. While Corrado is an upgrade on Justin Holl, the team is ultimately not starving for talent.

I don’t believe it to be likely that the NHL would rule this a violation of anything. The league has only blocked a conditioning stint like this when the violations were obvious, like when the Buffalo Sabres wanted to avoid sending Mikhail Grigorenko to junior and tried to send him down to the Rochester Americans, despite his age and development status. It didn’t go well.

It’ll be interesting to see how long the Leafs keep Corrado down for. Again, they have a fourteen-day window, but with Jake Gardiner not travelling with the Leafs to Montreal, there’s a possibility that his injury may keep him out for a little bit, allowing Corrado room to step in whenever ready.

Neither team has a shortage of games in the next two weeks; the Leafs return to the ice on Saturday night and will play six games in that span while the Marlies play three games in three nights starting tomorrow and have seven games in the stretch. If I had to make a guess, he’ll either be swooped back up to Montreal following Friday’s game against Rochester, or held onto until next Friday’s home matchup against Grand Rapids; the fifth game of the Marlies’ stretch run. If it really is a matter of getting in game shape, I doubt he’ll need to see the full fourteen.