There’s no other way to say it: the Maple Leafs are screwing over Frank Corrado.
Sure he’s in the NHL, sure he’s making $600,000 this season, but they’re doing a fine job of ruining his future.
After being plucked off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks before the season opener last year, Corrado sat and waited for his chance to play. On the eventual last-place team in the National Hockey League, the right-handed d-man waited until December 15th to appear in his first game.
He was a good soldier. He didn’t complain, and he worked hard to earn his chance.
Corrado had to get in shape after recovering from injury during the 2015 offseason, so there was some rationale for sitting. But until the 15th? That seems excessive.
The Toronto native played in 39 games for the Leafs last year, and must have been hopeful to play more this season. That doesn’t look likely, as he’s appeared in just one game out of the 29 the Maple Leafs have played this season.
The 23-year-old defenceman is healthy, hungry, and waiting to play.
“It’s frustrating now,” Corrado told David Alter of The Athletic. “When you don’t get to play for a month and a half, and you’ve played in one game all year, it takes its toll on you mentally… Yeah, you’re in the NHL. It’s not that the novelty has worn off; it’s just that it’s time to play. It’s time to have a career. I feel like the more I’m not playing, that’s food off my table. That’s kind of the way I see it right now.”
Corrado was coveted by the Leafs because of his age and his potential. By not playing him, they’re wasting both for a player looking to prove himself.
There’s the possibility that Corrado was never going to make it anyway, but that should be determined by the player, not the organization.
He turns another year older in March and becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. What happens if the Leafs don’t qualify him and he needs to convince another team to give him a chance? What are the prospects of a one-way contract for a 24-year-old that has been a designated press box sitter for two years?
These next comments by Corrado seem to indicate that head coach Mike Babcock has a different view of him than GM Lou Lamoriello.
“I talked to Lou and he’s been supportive with me,” Corrado said. “He told me he likes me, and he wants me here. It does make me feel better about the situation, 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.”
It’s time for the Leafs to decide what Corrado is to them.
Is he a defenceman with potential and value that they would loathe to lose on waivers? If so, they need to play him or trade him to another team.
If he’s merely a run of the mill depth defenceman, then put him on waivers and don’t sweat it if he gets claimed.
But at some point, the team needs to look out for the best interest of the player. Because right now, they’re screwing him.