Frank Corrado’s long wait appears to be over.
Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock told reporters after a 6-3 home win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday that Corrado would likely make his season debut Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Corrado, a 23-year-old defenseman, has been a healthy scratch for all 14 of Toronto’s games this season. His plight has led to a movement on Twitter via the hashtag #FreeFrankCorrado.
Of course, Corrado’s situation to start a season is nothing new.
After being claimed off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks before opening night in 2015-16 season, Corrado was kept out of the lineup for every game until Dec. 15. He only saw regular action once veteran blueliners Dion Phaneuf and Roman Polak were dealt. (Polak re-signed with the Leafs as a free agent in the off-season.) Corrado wound up playing in 39 games last season, scoring once and adding five assists.
Corrado had been doing his best to be diplomatic about his roster status this season. But it was clear Thursday his frustration was starting to surface. Now it seems like he’ll finally get his chance.
Babcock also mentioned defenseman Matt Hunwick and center Peter Holland would probably draw back into the lineup. Hunwick, an alternate captain whose Corsi For percentage is second worst on the team at 44.87, was activated before Friday’s game but did not play. Holland has one assist in six games and hasn’t played since Oct. 25 when the Leafs were crushed 7-3 by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While no players have been mentioned to come out of the lineup, it’s safe to say Polak, Martin Marincin and Ben Smith are prime candidates.
Polak and Marincin are the Leafs’ bottom-two defensemen with the worst possession numbers this season of blueliners on the ice Friday. They also have limited offensive stats, combining for four points in 22 games. Smith has worst Corsi For percentage on the team at 39.51 in 13 games with Colorado and Toronto. The fourth-line center has a one goal and an assist, both recorded in his nine games as a Leaf.