Frank Corrado is frustrated with his situation in Toronto, and he sure has reason to be.
Through the first 13 games of the season, the 23-year-old has yet to see game action. Not a minute here or a minute there, not even a single second. Since the start of the campaign until now, Corrado has been a healthy scratch, and it sure doesn’t sound like that’s about to change any time soon, either. Not even after the Maple Leafs had their doors blown off by the Los Angeles Kings to the tune of a 7-0 final score.
“It’s frustrating, but I’m not going to come in here and suck out about it,” Corrado said, according to the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan. “It’s up to me to be a good pro.”
It’s a strange thing, though, because Corrado was a highly touted waiver-wire pickup by the Maple Leafs ahead of the 2015-16 season, but he failed to make a real impact in Toronto even last season. He skated a mere 39 games and averaged less than 15 minutes of ice time per game, netting a goal and six points in the process, and he’s found himself back out of the lineup this season in large part because…well, it’s hard to really pinpoint the reason.
According to puckalytics.com, in the games Corrado did play in 2015-16, he boasted an on-ice 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage of 54.8 percent, all the while getting the chance to contribute offensively with more than half of his shifts starting in the attacking zone. He even skated nearly 200 minutes with Jake Gardiner and the duo were a positive possession pairing even with a roughly even split of zone starts.
The one knock might be that when Corrado was on the ice at 5-on-5, the Maple Leafs surrendered roughly six goals for every four tallies for, but that was as much the result of near league-worst goaltending as anything. Still, though, that could be somewhat of an explanation for Corrado’s absence to start this season. But regardless of his less-than-satisfactory goals for percentage, there were some thinking the bad beat against the Kings could signal the perfect time for Corrado to get a look. Corrado would probably agree. Heck, even some of the Maple Leafs players might agree. But coach Mike Babcock? Not so much.
“We just went 3-1 in our last four, right?” Babcock said when asked about putting Corrado in the lineup. But he did provide an explanation for why, more than a dozen games into the campaign, Corrado hasn’t even gotten so much as a sniff of the lineup.
“Last season we didn’t have (Connor) Carrick and we didn’t have (Nikita) Zaitsev,” Babcock said. “That’s the problem with life. The truth today isn’t the truth tomorrow. If you’re working in your job and someone else comes in and is a little smoother at it, guess what happens to you? So it’s the same thing.”
If you’re wondering why, then, the Maple Leafs wouldn’t go ahead and simply demote Corrado and get him some games, there’s a simple explanation for that: they can’t. Or at least they can’t without risking losing him on waivers. And with a depth chart that’s thin on defense beyond Corrado — there is 56 games total NHL experience among the Marlies’ defense — he’s the best depth option Toronto has and one that’s the best long-term injury replacement should such a situation come to pass.
Babcock did praise Corrado’s attitude towards the situation, however, and added that when he did get an opportunity, it was up to Corrado to seize it. When that opportunity comes, though, is anyone’s guess, and even Corrado acknowledged that the only way he might be getting into the lineup is if someone goes down with injury.
“I think right now, it’s just wait until there are injuries, and then you get your chance to play,” Corrado said, according to The Athletic’s David Alter. “But, I don’t know. That could change. Right now, I guess I’m a depth defenseman. They like the six that they are rolling with, and that’s what they’re going to keep rolling (with) until there are injuries.”
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