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After sitting out all but one game, Maple Leafs send Corrado to AHL on conditioning loan

Frank Corrado is finally getting the chance to see game action, but he’s going to be doing so in the AHL. The Maple Leafs sent the 23-year-old, who has been scratched 35 times in 36 games, to the AHL on a conditioning loan.

No player ever wants to get demoted from the NHL to the AHL, but if any player ever had a reason to be excited about heading down to the farm, it would be Maple Leafs defenseman Frank Corrado.

Corrado, 23, has been one of the more interesting stories of the season, which is almost unthinkable considering he’s only seen the ice for 16:24 throughout the entire campaign. But it’s exactly that — Corrado’s lack of playing time — that has been such a talking point this season.

Despite the fact he’s remained with the big club for the entire season, Corrado has spent all but one game of his season watching from the sidelines. On opening night, he was a healthy scratch. By the end of the first month, still a healthy scratch. He finally saw game action come Nov. 12, but he was sidelined again one game later, on Nov. 15, and he hasn’t seen meaningful action since. Sure, he has practiced and taken part in many optional skates, but Corrado still hasn’t been able to crack the lineup on any regular basis.

And, considering how much his lack of ice time has become a story this season, it’s almost cause for celebration that the Maple Leafs announced Monday that Corrado had been demoted to the AHL on a conditioning loan.

As part of the loan, Corrado is eligible to play up to seven games for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. His first game in the lineup could come as early as Tuesday evening against the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg, and if he suits up for each of the next seven outings, he could find himself back in the NHL by the time mid-January rolls around.

Getting into action is the best possible thing for Corrado, who hasn’t so much as sniffed the ice since his Nov. 12 game. It’s been tough sledding for the Maple Leafs defender, too. Because of his absence from the lineup, he has played just one regular season game — in any league — since April 9, 2016. Nine months away from top-level competition certainly can’t be good for his development.

It seemed as though the lack of playing time was really starting to take its toll on Corrado, too. In mid-Decemeber, he spoke with The Athletic’s David Alter and said that he felt as though every game he missed out on suiting up for was a missed opportunity for him to carve out his future. Corrado even made some direct comments about coach Mike Babcock after saying he had gotten words of encouragement from GM Lou Lamoriello.

“(Lamoriello’s support) does make me feel better about the situation,” Corrado told Alter back in December. “But at the end of the day, the coach is the one who makes the lineup and if the coach doesn’t like you, then you’re not going to play. And that’s where I’m at right now.”

Babcock responded by saying Corrado was “missing the boat big time,” and the two have seemingly smoothed things over since, but that hasn’t changed the young rearguard’s standing in the lineup. Maybe some success in the AHL over the next two weeks can change that, though.

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