Frankie goes to Utica?
Aside from the signings of Brad Richardson and Yannick Weber, the summer has been void of major moves, and the Canucks will head into the 2013/2014 season with the same faces you’ve become accustomed to Mike Gillis — just under the rule of a new bench boss.
Capgeek lists 12 forwards and eight defencemen under contract for the Canucks, which is line with Torts’ long-standing ethos of giving young players room to advance up the depth chart.
With the bare minimum of forwards signed, there will be chances for the likes of Brendan Gaunce, Niklas Jensen, Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk to impress in training camp and earn the right to start the season with the big club.
Where this philosophy gets interesting is on the blueline
With eight defencemen under contract, and the top four pretty much a lock, there won’t be quite as much wiggle room for the likes of Frank Corrado. The 20-year-old fifth-round pick has seen his career fast tracked since his draft year.
After being one of the final cuts at the World Junior camp last year, Corrado played three games for the Chicago Wolves after his junior season was over before making the jump to Vancouver and playing in three regular season games and four playoff games.
Corrado didn’t look terribly out of place in his professional debut, raising the question of where he belongs this year. Clearly, the kid is quickly blossoming into a NHL-caliber player.
NHL or AHL
The question is whether his development is better served in the NHL or the AHL.
As mentioned, the Canucks’ blueline will be a hard nut to crack for the youngster. With a good training camp, he could conceivably leapfrog Andrew Alberts or Yannick Weber, but, barring some surprise chemistry with one of the veterans, he stands very little chance of getting any more than, say, 15 minutes a game.
A steady, sheltered role in the NHL could be the next logical step for Corrado, but we have to remember that the 20-year-old can count his number of professional career games on his hands.
Making The Jump
The leap almost directly from the OHL to the NHL is a huge one, and though Corrado has surprised many, he’s not an elite talent that should be trusted to make the transition with no problems and the Canucks have no real need for him to do that.
His call-up last year made many wonder why the Canucks bothered to burn a year off Corrado’s ELC for what was a minimal contribution in team success.
The contract isn’t an issue this year, but they’ll be just fine without Corrado until the injuries come calling.
Instead, it’s easy to see how starting the year in Utica could be very beneficial to Corrado’s career. It’s a chance to be ‘the guy’ on the Comet’s blueline, soaking up ice time in all situations and learning the ropes of playing against full-grown men.
He’ll have a chance to play under coach Travis Green, fresh off a Memorial Cup run with the Portland Winterhawks.
Green rattled off 37 wins in 47 games after the suspension of ‘Hawks head coach Mike Johnston and carries an intriguing skill-set and resume that may very well make him to the Canucks what Dallas Eakins was to Toronto.
If he can have the same success in the AHL, why wouldn’t you want Frankie mentoring under him?
It all comes down to what kind of camp Corrado has, the impression he makes to Torts and whether or not some blueliners get banged up before opening day.
On paper, though, it really seems that Corrado would be best served to start the year in the AHL and further develop his toolbox before making the leap full-time to the NHL.