Frank Corrado’s progression through the Vancouver Canucks’ system to this point in time has become almost as much about remembering his recent past as it is projecting his short-term future.
For instance, at this time last year, Corrado was in the midst of the Ontario Hockey League pre-season with the Sudbury Wolves.
The National Hockey League was on the verge of yet another lockout, the third under the direction of commissioner Gary Bettman, and Corrado, Vancouver’s fifth-round pick from the 2011 draft, was preparing for the haul of the junior ranks.
No one really could’ve predicted that by the spring he’d complete the hop, skip and a jump from junior, to the minor-league Chicago Wolves for a brief period when his OHL playoff run came to an end, and then to the Vancouver Canucks late in the regular season and playoffs.
September of 2013 has the now 20-year-old defenceman in Penticton, B.C., for the Young Stars Classic; he entered the event last week as the prospect believed to have the best chance at cracking the Canucks’ lineup.
“It’s great to be recognized and to know that you’ve got a shot,” Corrado said Saturday.
“But at the same time, you never stop working. I use this as a tune for main camp so I can go in there and play my game and play well.”
Corrado sat out the first game of the five-team tournament, but was one of the few standouts Friday when the Canucks’ prospects dropped a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Flames young guns at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
He scored the lone Vancouver goal on a blast from the point, and, particularly in the first half of the game, showed the same poise with the puck that Canucks fans have already witnessed.
The element of complacency – or perhaps resting up for main camp – has been absent this past week.
“I don’t think that’s the way he was brought up and that’s the way he approaches the game,” said Utica Comets assistant coach and former NHLer Nolan Baumgartner, who was also an assistant in Chicago when Corrado made his brief AHL stop.
“He just goes out and plays hard every night. You know what you’re getting from him and that’s what as coaches, we love that.”
Corrado played seven games total between regular season and playoffs for the Canucks, thus using up a year in his entry-level contract.
Corrado said he weighed in at 195 pounds during the summer development camp and would like to be at that mark, maybe a few pounds heavier, when training camp begins next week.
Not that he felt like he got pushed around at the NHL level.
It’s just that a heavier, stronger frame would simply prove more beneficial over the course of the regular season grind.
“I thought I won some battles and I thought I served myself pretty good,” said Corrado.
“It’s different. Those guys are full-grown men. It’s not something I was always accustomed to playing against but it’s something you adjust to and I thought I adjusted pretty quick.”
Where exactly Corrado plies his trade won’t be determined at the conclusion of the Young Stars showcase but rather through training camp and the pre-season.
There is a chance he could make the Canucks out of camp.
Another option is assigning him to the Comets, Vancouver’s new minor league affiliate, where he could play every game, pile up big minutes in many different scenarios.
Corrado, himself, can’t wait to find out.
“I feel like summer felt longer this year just because I wanted to get back and get going here,” he said.
“Definitely excited for main camp.”