Toronto Maple Leafs: Frankie Corrado Set to Finally Make Debut


Toronto Maple Leafs fans will get to see the long awaited debut of defenceman Frank Corrado, who has spent the first two months in a suit watching from the press box waiting for his turn.

It only took 28 games, but Mike Babcock has decided to put Frank Corrado in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup on Tuesday, to make his debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Corrado was picked up on waivers, after failing to make the Vancouver Canucks out of training camp.

More from Toronto Maple Leafs

Without any preseason games or a formal training camp with Babcock, it was tough for Corrado to just sit and wait to be put in the lineup. Speaking to the media, including Lancy Hornby of the Toronto Sun, Babcock said: “Obviously, it hasn’t been easy for him, but when we talk about how hard it is, it sounds like he’s not in the NHL every day and not getting paid and not flying on the nice team plane.”

Discussing Corrado’s plight, the Leafs coach continued by saying: “I have a hard time feeling sorry for guys playing in the National Hockey League.

“Do you have a better lot in life if you are playing 20 minutes a night? Absolutely. But if you work hard and compete hard and do good things, even the coaches catch on.”

It must have been tough for Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello to have the 22-year old player sitting in the press box. Especially when fans and the media kept questioning what the ‘plan’ was for the young defenceman.

It has not been easy for the younger players to crack the lineup on the blueline, with really only one spot available to them. No one expects Morgan Rielly, Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Matt Hunwick and even Roman Polak to be scratched for a younger unproven player.

Apr 13, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Frand Corrado (26) scores against Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo (31) (not pictured) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Harrington and Martin Marincin were rotating as the sixth defenceman, but many were wondering when it would be Corrado’s time to get in for a game. With the Leafs on an extended break between games, it has given Babcock as chance to have him consistently practice with Roman Polak.

The Leafs expect Corrado and Polak to play together. The issue with that could be the fact Corrado is a right-handed shot playing on the left side, so he will have to make the adjustment there.

The Leafs don’t expect Corrado to provide a lot of offence, as he is primarily a stay at home defenceman. Last season with the Canucks he played 10 games, scoring just one goal in that stretch and averaged 15:40 minutes a night.

For the advanced stats crowd, Corrado’s corsi percentage was 48% and his Fenwick percentage was 49.7%, which for a player of his style is pretty good. He did have seven goals, nine assists for 16 points in 35 games last season in the AHL with Utica, but it would be difficult to see him have an offensive impact.

All he needs to do with the Leafs is play a solid defensive game, show he can move the puck out of the zone effectively and make good decisions when in possession. In your first game, sometimes the excitement or nerves get to you, so he will have to make sure he is not getting too ahead of himself.

This will be tough though, because Corrado wants to make a good first impression, especially because of his limited chances to do so. This is what he had to say about the long wait before his debut:

"“It’s always nice to have support from the fans, even though they haven’t seen me play here yet. At the end of the day, I can’t look at that stuff too much. I just have to have the mindset that I’ll play every night and prepare that way. You just have to be a good pro.”"

In a recent interview with TSN, Canucks GM Jim Benning said he was keeping his eye on the Leafs and Corrado, but not saying that he was going to try and re-acquire him. The Canucks have some injuries on their blueline and it probably would have been Corrado that would have been called up had he cleared waivers for them.

Next: Tweetgate: The Leafs and Steven Stamkos

Unfortunately for Vancouver, Corrado will make his debut with the Leafs. If he plays well, it could afford him the chance to make some more appearances after waiting 28 games for this opportunity.