Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
It looks like Frank Corrado‘s time with the Leafs organization isn’t quite over yet. After being placed on waivers yesterday to make room for Alexey Marchenko, the 23-year-old has passed through without a claim. It’s expected that he’ll eventually be assigned to the Toronto Marlies.
Corrado clears waivers.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 5, 2017
Corrado’s time in Toronto has been interesting, to say the least. He was originally claimed by his hometown team in October 2015 after missing out on being on the Canucks’ opening night roster. The Leafs, however, felt he wasn’t fit to play yet as a result of his extended recovery from injuries suffered late in the prior season with the Utica Comets, Vancouver’s AHL affiliate.
Because of this, it took him months to be fully integrated into the Leafs lineup, a stretch which included a rather surprising two-week conditioning assignment with the Marlies. Once he drew in, he looked as good or better than his peers, though, by the end of the season, his peers had largely become the Marlies on spot duty.
This season, however, somehow topped that. Despite a solid training camp, Corrado found himself as the fourth right-handed defenceman behind Roman Polak. To his frustration, he drew into just one game in his first three months. Eventually, the Leafs went the conditioning stint route once again, assigning him in early January. Corrado did well under the circumstances and even got to play in a second Leafs game after Morgan Rielly was hurt, but was placed on his off-side on a pair with Polak and, combining that with rust, had a poor showing and wasn’t seen from again.
There was a lot of debate as to whether Corrado would clear waivers yesterday. In an early-season situation, I couldn’t really see it happening; the seventy games he’s played at the NHL level indicate that there may be something there, and as a young RFA on a near-minimum contract, there’s not a ton of risk. But there is a risk in the sense that claiming him would involve throwing him back in for regular minutes, and in a league where everybody other than Colorado (who just claimed Mark Barberio) and Arizona (who would have to waive someone else to make space for him) is still in the playoff picture to some extent. Corrado essentially needs an in-season training camp right now, and when the points are this valuable, nobody can afford to give that to him.
With that in mind, this was the right time to waive him, so while I feel bad for Frank, it’s extremely beneficial to the Leafs organization. This gives them more flexibility come the deadline; if Marchenko ends up being at least as good as Polak (a presumably easy task) in Babcock’s eyes (a harder but doable task), then they’d be able to sell their veteran rightie at the deadline for a second consecutive season, like they did with Daniel Winnik in 2015 and 2016.
It also gives the Marlies a huge boost; they only have two right-handed defencemen on even a semi-regular basis, and while Justin Holl is a mainstay, there are nights where William Wrenn doesn’t get a chance. Corrado was their #1 in both minutes played and performance for most of his stint, so having another top rightie will be huge.
If there’s any silver lining for Corrado personally, it’s that he can get his game together close to home, and either make one last push to crack the Leafs full time or get huge minutes with one of the more closely-watched AHL teams to audition to the other 29 teams. I believe there’s still something in him; we’ll see if that’s true soon enough.
The Marlies have a 1 PM start today, so I wouldn’t expect him to draw in, but you could see him as soon as Tuesday night when they take on the Utica Comets.