Friday, 8 April 2016

RFAs, the Series - Episode 5: Frank Corrado

Continuing on from the previous episode on Sam Carrick, we're going to talk about former Vancouver Canuck: Frank Corrado.

Oh, what could have been. Image courtesy of

This pre-season, the Vancouver Canucks management decided that there wasn't room on their team for the future superstar defenseman, so they placed him on waivers. The Leafs were successful in claiming him on waivers, and it was at that point that the Frank Corrado ERA began.

Much better. Image courtesy of
Obviously, I'm overselling to poke fun at the Canucks, so let's pull back to reality and truly evaluate Frank Corrado.

After a succession of posts where there was no NHL advanced data to go on, we finally have a player who has played enough games to have a meaningful sample size. But, since advanced metrics don't really factor into contract talks much, I'll be skimming them over. This series is for contract analysis, not full player analyses. Unlike Peter Brandt in Moneyball, I can't do 47 51 player evaluations in one day (despite reminding a lot of people of Jonah Hill). 

So, here's a fun little graph from Corsica:
Graph taken from Data is Score, Zone and Venue adjusted from 5v5
This is a distribution graph. So, the big hill part is how the league spreads out in terms of rel xGF% (possession stats with shot location data factored in). You can see the peak of the hill, and most of the area of the hill, is on the negative side of zero.

Meanwhile, Frank Corrado (the solid blue line) sits on both the right side of the peak and the right side of zero. This is good news. It means that, in terms of rel xGF%, Corrado is better than the majority of the league.

He's not in the elite portions of the graph near the far right, but above average is a good sign for the 23 year old defenseman. 

Corrado faltered slightly in the more traditional scoring stats, scoring only 6 points in 38 games. However, it still seems he has had a respectable season.

So, what?

How does Corrado fit into the organization's future? 

He's young enough to fit the timeline, so that's not of concern. Where the concern comes in is the glutton of young, bottom-pairing defensemen that the Leafs have. Harrington, Percy (who I wrote about here), and Connor Carrick all are worthy of NHL time. Loov and Valiev are right on their heels as well. Not to mention potentially adding free agents to the mix (Zaitsev, anyone?)

It really seems to come down to lefty vs. lefty and righty vs. righty. Harrington vs. Percy, Carrick vs. Corrado. I'll go ahead and assume the Leafs want to leave those battles to training camp and not try to decide them in the offseason. As such, it makes sense that they would try to bring him back.

But, at what dollar value? What length of time?

Here are the 3 typical perspectives, ideal, realistic and pessimistic:

Ideal: 1 year at $700k AAV

Corrado played only half a season, and only scored 6 points. He really doesn't have a strong case for a lot of money. He's coming off of a $632,500 contract, so this would be a small raise for him. It's not really NHL money, but remember, this is the ideal case.

Someone may make the point that I compared Corrado's situation to Percy's here, and yet Percy's ideal contract was $900k and Corrado's is $700k. The disparity, for me, comes from the fact that Corrado got a legitimate NHL shot and, by traditional metrics, was average or worse. The success of Percy's AHL campaign vs. the lack of such success of Corrado's NHL campaign. Once again, remember, this is the ideal case.

Also, I'm just now realizing that the "Ideal" case should have been the "Optimistic" case this whole time. Whatever, who needs directly opposite words when you have other synonyms, right?

Realistic: 1 year at $900k AAV

Now we're talking about getting close to bottom-pairing, "Stuart Percy" kind of money. It's still a 1 year "prove it" deal, but it's enough money to say they think he belongs. This seems a very agreeable number for Corrado's contract.

Pessimistic: 1 year at $1.5M AAV

Yet again, we're going to reference the Percy post, because I'm bringing back the strategy of paying Corrado more than he's worth to prevent him from being claimed on waivers. Once again, in this pessimistic case, we're assuming he's not good enough to make the team and are trying to protect him as such. It's a sneaky strategy, but one that could pay off for the Leafs if opportunity were to open up for Corrado later in the season (like if Matt Hunwick gets traded partway through the year, or someone has a long term injury). 


I think it's fairly obvious at this point that Corrado comes back to the Leafs organization next year, and since he's waiver-eligible, he will probably make the big club. I'm excited to see what he can do in a full-year campaign. I'm also really excited to see how these battles for the couple D-man spots on the Leafs roster shake out. It will be a very interesting preseason, undoubtedly.

Stay tuned for the next episode, where we'll talk about young goaltender and former Twitter funny-man, Garret Sparks.

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