The Vancouver Canucks defence are like Dr. Curt Connors at the moment: all left. With both Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa out of the lineup with injuries, the Canucks have dressed six left-handed defencemen over the past three games, forcing three of them to play on their off-side. While Jason Garrison appears to have made a fairly smooth transition to playing on the right, it hasn’t gone quite as well for the rest of the defence corps.
The Canucks’ defensive efforts have been marred by turnovers and an inability to break out of the defensive zone and it seems likely that the lack of right-handed defencemen is partially to blame. It comes as no surprise, then, that they would try to remedy the situation with an injection of right-handedness into the lineup.
Frank Corrado, who is coming off a superb final season in Junior, got called up to the Canucks today and, judging from the Canucks’ morning skate, he’ll be inserted directly into the top-four. In essence, Corrado is Curt Connors’ experimental reptilian limb regeneration serum: will he fix what ails the defence or will he turn them into a grotesque monster?
Corrado is getting thrown to the wolves in his first NHL game, playing alongside Alex Edler against the best team in the league, the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s understandable why they would do this, however, as the Canucks need to know now if he can be a significant contributor in the playoffs.
The Canucks have shown a willingness to play rookie defencemen in the playoffs in the past, as Chris Tanev acquitted himself nicely during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. If the Canucks are going to burn through a year of Corrado’s entry-level contract, they need to know now that he can play well in a major role against tough competition. If Corrado isn’t good enough right now to play in the top-four, it’s probably in the Canucks best interest to keep him out of the lineup this year.
With the lockout-shortened season, Corrado can play in five games without burning a year of his contract. The Canucks have three games left this season, so have the option of playing him in a couple playoff games as well, which might be necessary depending on how long Tanev and Bieksa are out with their injuries.
Corrado came just short of making Team Canada’s World Junior team, which came as a shock to Bob McKenzie, who thought he had earned a spot on the roster during camp. The coach of Team Canada, Steve Spott, seemed to regret cutting him, as Canada could have used his steady, two-way ability, and his Kitchener Rangers traded for Corrado right after the World Junior tournament. Corrado scored 45 points in 69 games in the OHL, scoring 18 points in 28 games with a plus-21 rating following his trade to the Rangers.
After the Rangers were knocked out of the OHL playoffs, Corrado joined the Chicago Wolves, playing three games for them as the Wolves fell just short of making the AHL playoffs. Corrado had 2 assists in those three games, which is a good sign for the young defenceman, but the Canucks don’t need him to rack up points.
All the Canucks need from Corrado is a steady presence on the right side. If he can handle playing with Edler against a tough opponent, you can expect to see him in the playoffs.Tags: Frankie Corrado