All Frank Corrado wants for Christmas is a chance to show that he can play at NHL level, despite the fact that he has only suited up for 40 games so far over two full seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs - and only once this year, on November 12th.
Is it that he's not good enough to play? Not really. It's that the Leafs claimed him off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks prior to the start of last season and don't want to lose him the same way if they send him to the AHL, but he's so rusty from never suiting up that coach Mike Babcock isn't comfortable letting him play. Meanwhile, he rightfully feels his career is slowly passing him by, because every year brings a new crops of draftees from Juniors and overseas, as well as U.S. College players - hundreds of guys potentially gunning for his position.
He's 23, a defenseman about to enter his prime, and he hasn't been able to gain experience in the years where he should, i.e. the early 20s. It's poor asset management on the Leafs' part, and it's borderline cruel to the player.
Sure, he's making NHL-level money right now eating popcorn in the press box and practicing with actual NHLers, but not improving may cost him an NHL-level payday as early as next season. If he were/would have been to become a regular top-six defender, or a top-four, that's millions of dollars potentially at stake. One season at half a million for doing less than one feels like they can will never buy that back and definitely is not worth a lifetime of bad blood, resentment and bitterness.
I'm no fan of the Leafs, but this is below even what I initially thought of them. Ironically, it's not entirely below what I think GM Lou Lamoriello can do to a guy who hasn't deserved the favours he keeps handing out to his favourite guys.
I wish Corrado a new team for 2017.
Here he is on the signed insert version of card #742 from Panini's 2013-14 Score collection, part of the Dual Rookie Class and Hot Rookies sub-sets: