“We just started jumping around and hugging each other,” Corrado said. “It’s as good as it gets.”
The 22-year-old defenceman wasn’t as thrilled to find out he hadn’t made the Canucks, but he hopes to stick in the NHL with the team he grew up rooting for.
“In my head I thought I was good enough to play and had done well enough (in Canucks camp),” Corrado said. “Just by the decision they made they clearly thought that it wasn’t good enough. That’s their decision, and they have a lot of good defencemen there who can play. It’s over now and I’m here now and I just want to make the best of this opportunity.”
Corrado will soon get that opportunity, potentially on the third defensive pairing alongside Jake Gardiner. Scott Harrington, who was in that spot for the past two days of practice, was sent to American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies on Tuesday to get the Leafs to the 23-man roster limit by the deadline.
Coach Mike Babcock watched tape of Corrado on Monday and did some background work on who he was as a player. He came away with a strong impression.
“Right-hand shot, young guy, skates, moves the puck,” Babcock said. “I thought he played well in the games I saw with Vancouver when I was watching him yesterday. We can help him on his puck retrievals and his exits as well, but another young guy trying to make our club better.”
Babcock said making the Leafs better was the reason they put winger Richard Panik on waivers Tuesday. Toronto got Panik off waivers a year ago from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it’s hard to see him clearing as a 24-year-old who scored 11 goals last season.
“What you do is you say, ‘Can we improve our roster in any way?”‘ Babcock said. “Richie’s a good man who worked hard and tried hard and we were just in a position we feel that we can help our back end, so we’re going to try it.”
Corrado didn’t know if he’d be in the lineup opening night against the Montreal Canadiens, and he was lucky to already be in the area. Once Vancouver waived him, he flew home so he could prepare to get his car to drive to of the AHL if he wasn’t claimed and wound up sticking around.
After a “roller-coaster” 24 hours, now he hopes to show the Leafs they made the right call and the Canucks the wrong one. He described himself as a “mobile, smart, two-way defencemen who’s defence first” but knows it’ll be on the coaching staff and management to judge.
“It’s my job to show you with my play,” Corrado said.