Canucks’ Jensen, Corrado No Longer Young Stars

So the Vancouver Canucks are sending a couple NHL players to their upcoming Young Stars prospects tournament.

They must really want to win this not-so-coveted trophy in front of a scattering of fans in Penticton. That, or they aren’t big believers in Nicklas Jensen and Frankie Corrado’s potential to play in the big league this season.

Technically, they are both still eligible for this showcase because they have played fewer than 100 regular-season games as a professional. That doesn’t mean they necessarily belong there.

Jensen finished last season on Vancouver’s top line with the Sedins, for crying out loud.

And Corrado was good enough to be in the lineup for 4 playoff games two years ago when the Canucks were still considered an elite team and Stanley Cup contenders.

These guys have no business playing in a tournament typically reserved for recently drafted prospects with little or no pro experience.

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A first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Jensen has played no fewer than 99 regular-season games and has suited up for two playoff games to boot, bringing his pro total to 101. That includes 19 NHL games, 17 of them coming this past spring alongside Henrik and Daniel.

Corrado has even more NHL games on his resume, a combined 22 from the previous regime under former coaches Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella, including 15 regular-season games in 2013-14. He’s played 84 regular-season games plus six playoff contests for a grand pro total of 90 after being selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

Despite only being 21 years old, they both made their pro debuts back in 2011-12 and have both played in two prior Young Stars tournaments. This would actually be their fourth if the lockout hadn’t cancelled the 2012 edition.

They will most likely be the only two players in this year’s tournament with both those distinctions. About a dozen others spread over four rosters will also be appearing in their third Young Stars, but they didn’t make their pro debuts until more recently and the majority have yet to play in the NHL.

Jensen should be in a league of his own, a man among boys in Penticton.

No forwards there will boast near his level of credentials.

The Calgary Flames aren’t sending Sven Baertschi, a soon-to-be 22-year-old with 51 games of NHL experience but only 26 last year.

The Winnipeg Jets won’t be dressing Eric O’Dell, a 24-year-old who made his NHL debut this past season by playing in 30 games.

The Edmonton Oilers will be without Tyler Pitlick, who is turning 23 in November and also got his feet wet with 10 NHL games in 2013-14.

Those guys have all outgrown the Young Stars.

(Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Corrado will be the most experienced defenceman and have played the most NHL games of any prospect in this year's Young Stars tournament.
(Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
Frankie Corrado will be the most experienced defenceman, having played the most NHL games of any prospect in this year’s Young Stars tournament.

As for Corrado, the two closest comparables in terms of defencemen attending this year’s tournament will likely be Calgary’s Tyler Wotherspoon (21 with 14 games) and Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom (21 with 17 games). They are the same age as Corrado, and Wotherspoon has also played in every tournament dating to 2011, but they are both coming off their first season of professional hockey (in North America with regards to Klefbom).

In contrast, Corrado has been around the pro game for three seasons already, getting his first taste by playing 6 AHL games in 2011-12, followed by 7 NHL games, including the aforementioned 4 playoff contests, and 3 additional AHL games in 2012-13 after graduating from the OHL.

He’s essentially a veteran, along the lines of Edmonton’s Martin Marincin, who is 22 with 44 NHL games, all from 2013-14.

Imagine the outrage if the Oilers were to send an established pro like that to dominate against primarily junior players. Or if Calgary sent Baertschi to put on a scoring clinic.

So why should Corrado and Jensen get free passes? They shouldn’t, and the Canucks should be scrutinized for this decision. Whoever asked these guys to lace them up — reports indicate they didn’t volunteer — should face criticism, defended by a technicality or not.

Vancouver will justify it as an evaluation tool following an off-season full of off-ice changes. This tournament will give the new staff members — most notably, president Trevor Linden, general manager Jim Benning and head coach Willie Desjardins — a first-hand look at two of the franchise’s most seasoned prospects, but Penticton isn’t the place for that.

They have nothing left to prove at the Young Stars, and there would have been plenty of opportunity to observe their development in training camp and pre-season games against fellow pros for the most part.

Another theory is that Jensen was asked to play because Jake Virtanen, this year’s sixth overall pick with a similar skill-set, is expected to miss the tournament while still recovering from shoulder surgery.

Jensen more than fills that void and should light it up playing with another trio of first-round forwards in Bo Horvat (9th in 2013), Hunter Shinkaruk (24th in 2013) and Jared McCann (24th in 2014).

Corrado’s inclusion might have something to do with positional depth, as the Canucks are noticeably thin on the back end. But it’s not the competition’s fault that the Canucks are lacking in good defence prospects and would appear weak without Corrado on the roster.

Now he’ll probably end up being a tournament “all-star” and Vancouver fans will come away claiming Corrado’s better than Darnell Nurse (Edmonton) or Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets), a pair of 19-year-olds with much higher upside albeit not as polished at this point in their careers.

Funny thing is, Corrado probably won’t stand out over somebody like Brenden Kichton (Winnipeg), a 22-year-old blue-liner who put up solid AHL numbers during his pro debut last year. Or possibly Dillon Simpson (Edmonton), a 21-year-old NCAA grad out of the University of North Dakota.

Corrado could also have his hands full with the opposing forwards.

Calgary projects to be the most dangerous with Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and Morgan Klimchuk. Winnipeg has weapons such as Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan and Scott Kosmachuk. Edmonton might bring up the rear again this year, but Leon Draisaitl, Bogdan Yakimov and Greg Chase are expected to lead the way up front.

Vancouver’s forwards will be no slouch and getting those guys the puck, while also quarterbacking the power play, will be Corrado — rightly or wrongly.

If this tournament was held outside British Columbia, it’s fair to wonder whether Jensen and Corrado would still be involved. Are they going to Penticton to sell tickets and help put butts in the seats? Perhaps.

However, if the reasoning for their presence has more to do with winning, then that’s just wrong.

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.

32 thoughts on “Canucks’ Jensen, Corrado No Longer Young Stars”

  1. I don’t believe Canuck Fans have any desire to point anything out to you Larry.
    You wrote your article, which was full of very minor stats and a fair amount of personal opinion.

    This tournament is not a tournament, it’s simply a showcase in reality. Whether Jensen and Corrado, barely meet the requirements or don’t actually meet requirements to attend, has no affect on how the Vancouver Canucks will perform this season.
    You listed, in your own article, several legitimate reasons as to why they have been included, Injuries to Virtanen, tickets for Penticton, filling holes on a lacking prospect pool for D. But still went on to question and complain about the decision.

    WHO CARES? I read this article thinking something worth reading would be found regarding the prospects, instead I found very poor opinionated writing. With you answering your own complaining questions.. (So then… why write it?).
    I, just like most Oilers/Flames/Jets/Canucks fans, see no issue in these players being here…. Jensen, or Marincin, Klefbom… hell even if Baertschi was included, WOULD NOT CARE. THE RESULTS HAVE NO IMPACT ON ANYTHING THAT MATTERS TO ANYONE.
    We wish to see how they perform on the ice, I personally wish to Jensen play along side Horvat, and how those two would mesh (which we are getting a chance to see).
    If Benning decided NOT to include Jensen, and I did NOT get to see how they play together… I dont think I would need to complain about something rather miniscule.

    But articles like this, to me… it’s like a chef who has little to no experience cooking. Just throw a much spice (reasons to complain) into it as you can, and see if something worthwhile comes from it.
    Its still just spiced $hit in the end.

    • You know what, I appreciate that comment J Tanna. I read it over a couple times and it is actually well stated and I can’t even disagree with much of what you wrote. Thanks for the read nevertheless, and I hope you get more enjoyment/satisfaction/fulfillment from my latest post recapping Day 1 of the Young Stars tournament. Enjoy the season to come!

  2. Wow 4 playoff games, lets cry about that.
    Why don’t we cry about all the players that got World Junior experience. Maybe they shouldn’t be able to play either because they had a type of experience that other players didn’t get. Booo hoo.
    Lets take a look Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver’s D prospects. Notice how Winnipeg, and Edmonton have a lot of D prospects, while Vancouver doesn’t?
    These are really the only other prospects the Canucks have on D.
    If you were a good reporter and could good do some research, you would realize your real complaint should be with the plug Jeramie Blain. 101 PRO gp, and still attending. If you want to complain, figure that one out you hack.

    • Direct quote from my post: “It’s not the competition’s fault that the Canucks are lacking in good defence prospects and would appear weak without Corrado on the roster.”

      That’s my feelings on Corrado’s inclusion, but I do understand your point and agree that’s largely why he was included.

      Blain is a good call, he’s at 103 pro games played (107) with playoffs so he’s ineligible and probably shouldn’t be on Edmonton’s roster. Especially when Klefbom was eligible and is the better prospect. That said, Blain is a full year younger than Corrado and Jensen and has played ZERO games in the NHL, nor is he a former first-round pick like Jensen who has played 4 fewer pro games (or 6 counting playoffs). I’ll agree that Blain looks strange as well, but his name doesn’t jump off the page like Jensen or Corrado.

    • This might be the best point anybody has made so far. It’s the pre-season, this tournament only starts tomorrow, it was reaching a bit for a topic, but obviously this one seems to have hit a nerve with Canucks fans.

  3. instead of listing a bunch of players that are not eligible to play in the tourney from the other teams, why don’t you list a player from each that that IS eligible but the team is purposely holding back because that org feels they are too good…

    Oh, that’s right, there are NONE.

    • Math isn’t the issue here. If you read the post, I made specific mention that they ARE eligible by the slightest of mathematical margins.

      BUT my point is, and the fact is, their experience level is MUCH closer to those who are no longer eligible (Baertschi, Marincin) than it is to ANYBODY else attending this year’s tournament, with the exception of Wotherspoon.

      • I read the article. I also read the subsequent comments. The issue is that you did in fact get the math horrendously wrong with this lone statement:

        “No forwards there will boast near his level of credentials.”

        Given the credentials to enter the tournament (pro games), this is patently false.

  4. Sven Baertschi has played 124 pro regular season games between the nhl and ahl according to hockey db.

    “The Calgary Flames aren’t sending Sven Baertschi, a soon-to-be 22-year-old with 51 games of NHL experience but only 26 last year.”

    You even used Sven as an example as to why Vancouver shouldn’t send Jensen and Corrado

    Sven’s games played renderil him ineligible by the rules created for this tournament. Rules that you clearly dont agree with. Why not debate the rules instead of the team following them?

    Some research you’ve done.

    • Baertschi is 25 games over. Jensen is 1 game under. That puts them 26 games apart.
      One is eligible, one is not. You are correct there.

      The point is, and the facts are, Jensen is a LOT closer to Baertschi than he is to ANYBODY attending this year’s tournament and that is what my post was all about and why I’m saying he should have been held out until the pre-season games against more experienced guys like Baertschi. No point taking away ice time from younger prospects and lighting up a tournament where you should be a man among boys.

  5. so just because they are the 2 players with the most experience they shouldn’t play? that makes no sense whatsoever. you know full well that if those other players you mentioned were eligible their teams would have sent them. SOMEONE is always going to be the most experienced, you can’t just keep cutting the top 2 experienced players or else you’ll have a “team” made up of current junior players with no professional experience (a max of 14 players if a team drafted solely from the CHL.) this is a ridiculous notion you are presenting, and defending.

    • That’s not necessarily true. The rules is 100 games of North American professional experience.

      Edmonton could have sent Oscar Klefbom and Winnipeg could have sent Jacob Trouba, but they decided against it, likely assuming they had nothing to prove at a tournament of this calibre and that they were better off giving that ice time/opportunity to younger, less experienced prospects.

      There is plenty of reason to make this case and to defend it, and I’m standing by it…as much as you Canuck fans are exhausting me.

  6. So you are upset that the Canucks are sending eligible players. Great.
    Lets look at your arguements. First lets look at the fact that Baertschi, O’dell, and Pitlick aren’t going because their teams didn’t seem to send them. But maybe the reality of it is that the GM of those teams can do math. Here let me help you.
    Baertschi: 73 AHL gp + 51 NHL gp = 124 PRO gp
    O’Dell: 142 AHL gp + 30 NHL gp = 172 PRO gp.
    Pitlick:145 AHL gp + 10 NHL gp = 152 PRO gp
    Well, it really seems the reason that they didn’t get sent is because they are ineligible!
    Oh wait! You threw in Hopkins too, because he’s born the same year as Jensen!
    Well.. Hopkins: 19AHLgp + 120 NHL gp = 139 PRO gp!
    Dam, math is hard!

    Let’s see why Jensen is eligible. First I’ll point out that to ineligible, the player must have played less than 100 PRO games.
    Jensen: 80AHL gp + 19 NHL gp = 99 PRO gp!
    Well he’s at 99!(Playoff games, DO NOT COUNT! And no, I didn’t count pro games in the tallies for the others). He passed that difficult math test.
    Now to your, he played with Sedins, and should be in a world of his own mention. Does playing with the Sedins as a young, inexperienced player mean that you are going to be a man in their own world? Does it mean Jensen is to be a superstar, a player so great that all of Gretzky records will be broken within a decade? No, it doesn’t! In fact, let’s look at some other young, rather inexperienced players who got a taste with the Sedins.
    Jason King
    Taylor Pyatt
    Jesse Shultz
    Steve Bernier
    Let’s be honest, these players are horrible. They did alright in the AHL, they did alright at times in the NHL. But seriously, we know both know the reason he even got that many points is simply due to the fact there was injuries, and most importantly that he got a chance to play with the Sedins, like the bums above.
    Why would a team not want to send an inexperienced, young player to play in games that will be near AHL level. Its conditioning, its development. It makes sense, unlike your article!
    Seriously though, research is fun, and it can really help you. For a reporter, I thought research was something that most usually did before writing something. Guess you didn’t learn that part.

    • I get the math part, but the fact remains that Jensen (and Corrado) just barely qualify based on the eligibility rule and they should be dominant at this tournament. Nobody else attending has near their credentials. That was the whole point of this post, and to highlight that I personally feel they have nothing to gain, nothing to prove by playing in Penticton and if anything their presence will hinder the development of fellow Vancouver prospects who could have benefitted more from these opportunities. I stand by my opinions and I won’t back down from the points I originally made.

      The evaluation tool based on staff turnover is the only logical argument/reasoning here. Everything else is indisputable. Jensen is a LOT closer to Baertschi than he is to ANY other prospect attending this tournament based on experience. With Corrado, at least the Canucks can point to Wotherspoon BUT I still think the gap between them is significant because Corrado has PLAYOFF experience.

  7. Talk about a meaningless exercise. Do you really have nothing better to do than whine about a couple of 21 year olds who had a cup of coffee in the NHL? There’s more to life than just blindly cheering for a hockey team. You should get one.

    • Get a hockey team or get a life? Maybe both? Once training camp and the regular season rolls around, I’m sure there will be plenty of other topics to write about. For the time being, this is something that caught my attention as a controversial decision that warranted a post. Judging by the ongoing feedback here, it appears others agree and enjoyed the read.

  8. You keep bringing up Klefbom, but he really isn’t comparable, he had 3 seasons of Pro hockey under his belt before this season where he split time in the NHL 17 games, and AHL 48. Jensen played one season in the SEL before his current season of AHL hockey, and was only in the NHL because of injuries.

    Much like Carrodo before this season, was only called up at the end of his Jr season and played on an injured Vancouver Blue line.

    There is no comparables really not coming or coming for that matter. No one can make a great case for or against them.

    • Klefbom absolutely is comparable. So is Martin Marincin for that matter. But in Klefbom’s case, he was hurt for large chunks of those pro seasons in Sweden and North America is a totally different beast. If anything, he needs this tournament more than Jensen and certainly more than Corrado. He has only 132 games counting those “three” seasons of pro in Europe. By comparison, counting Jensen’s season in the SEL, he has 149 pro games. Jensen and Corrado are also much more familiar with the North American pro game than Klefbom, having both been exposed to it three years ago already, while last season was Kelfbom’s first taste of it. But the Oilers didn’t want to take that ice time and opportunity away from younger prospects. Klefbom will get a LONG look in pre-season games and throughout training camp. That’s where Corrado and Jensen should have got their look, their evaluation as well.

  9. So is Corrado a tournament “all star”, or is he getting turned inside out by all the other players who are so much better than him? You can’t have it both ways. If he’s getting turned inside out, obviously he’s not above the level of this competition is he?

    The Canucks brass feel that this is a good chance to evaluate Jensen and Corrado against players that they likely hope are below them from a development standpoint (but obviously aren’t sure). On the other end is someone like Monahan in Calgary. Flames management feel he’s comfortably a step above this competitions level of play, so they left him home. What’s wrong with that?

    Last I checked, no one cares who wins this tournament. Hell I’ve been to two of them and I can’t remember who won a single game. I go to watch single players and evaluate how good they are against competition relative to their own abilities. I could care less which team won.

    It’s an evaluation tool. Let the teams evaluate their players. No fans of any team are planning the parade after this so it’s probably best to leave your personal bias’ out of this if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Thanks for the comment, Joe. Of all the replies, you make the most valid points. I did make mention of the evaluation tool reasoning in my post and I had a further exchange with a Facebook friend regarding that. I feel it is worth sharing here, so I’ll copy-and-paste it over:

      Friend: If they can, why not? If that’s what the Canucks think is best for their season prep, then they’re gonna do it.

      Me: Fair point, but why steal ice time and opportunity from younger guys who won’t get those kind of chances (top-line minutes, power-play time, etc) in the pre-season? They have both played significant roles in the NHL already (top line, playoff games, shootout winning goals, etc), so I don’t think they belong in this tournament anymore.

      Another Friend (also a Nucks fan): Canucks have no prospects, that is why.

      Original Friend: One of the main reasons is that it’s a new staff who haven’t seen any of these young kids. My understanding is that the entire camp, from rookie camp to preseason games, will be a full evaluation of the entire squad. Jim Benning is a former scout who is data heavy in his determinations so he wants as much time to mull over everyone as possible. That being said the Canucks aren’t incredibly deep in the prospect pool so having a few older souls to get a better read on shouldn’t effect the proceedings. Had this still been Gillis / Vignuealt or Torts then it would seem unnecessary.

      Me: That’s true too, I figured as much and mentioned they would be using this prospect tournament as an evaluation tool. Their expectation will be for Jensen and Corrado to dominate the Young Stars and they should. But Corrado on the PP takes that opportunity away from Jordan Subban or Anton Cederholm, for example, and they could really use that exposure at the next level.

      Me: FYI, the Oilers released their roster for the Young Stars and Oscar Klefbom is NOT attending. Makes Corrado being there look even worse.

      Friend: It doesn’t look bad. I think you’re reading into this or over dramatizing it. The Oilers have the same staff as last year. The Canucks have an influx of new personnel including a new coach, new assistant coaches for both Utica and Canucks, new GM, new scouts and a new director of hockey ops for both the Canucks and Comets. Keeping that in mind it’s not a mystery to see why these guys are in young stars camp. Who knows at this point how they will even be used.

      These are just 2 players in question so the potential “damage” (if we could really call it that) is minimal at worst. There are several games to be played and all players will likely get a look in all the required situations, although their time might be brought down slightly. It all works out.

      I think we are also projecting expectations onto the coaching staff and players by saying what their expectations are. I think the only expectation anyone has is that the new personnel expects to see everyone and judge them accordingly. Corrado and Jensen might only play one of the many games and move along to full camp. It could be relevant if it somehow becomes an issue. If it does, that could be an interesting article.

      Me: This is all true again, I just feel Klefbom’s omission made my point even stronger. But your counter-points are fair as well. It could also be a non-issue if Corrado and Jensen are used sparingly in Penticton as you alluded to. I’m still surprised to see them on the roster but it does make a little more sense considering all the staffing changes in Vancouver and also Utica. Time will tell . . .

  10. LOL! Let’s rage over a completely meaningless tournament and about breaking rules that you invented, all the while completely ignoring that the Canucks will have the youngest team at the tournament. Perhaps you had a hard time doing any research for this article because you were having a hard time googling through your tears.

    • Your comment is pretty off base, Matt. Please turn your attention to Joe’s comment and my reply above.

      I didn’t invent the rules, the NHL teams did. Any player with less than 100 professional games is eligible. Jensen is eligible by ONE game and Corrado by 16. Nobody else attending this tournament is even close to those totals. Some have 60 or 70 games played, but not 90 or 99. And not 19 or 22 in the NHL. And not over 3 seasons like both Jensen and Corrado. The rules and the facts speak for themselves.

  11. Look at the other rosters before writing suck vitriol.

    1993 born players. 21 years old.

    Next season will only be their second years as pro players.

    There are an awful lot of players invited to this tournament who have played one year pro.

    How old is flames prospect Markus Granlund or Tyler Wotherspoon or talk about pro experience 1991 born Joni ortio who played many games for the flames last year How many 1993 born or later the flames bringing? 12 by my count.

    Jets are bringing 10 1993 and earlier players. Interesting you mention Kitchton and lipon. Both the same age as Corrado and Jensen.

    The oilers are bringing 16 1993 and earlier prospects.

    Interesting to note the Canucks are only carrying 8 players in the 1993 and older age bracket. Easily the least of any team there.

    Imagine if you were interested in research as much as you are talking trash? Might make for unbiased more enjoyable reading.

    • Appreciate the read and the comment Ryan, but you have missed the point of this point.

      Age was never the issue. It is all about experience and quality of experience. My argument is that Jensen and Corrado are “too good” or “too proven” to be playing in this tourney and the facts back that up.

      Those players you listed only reinforce my argument. Also note that the Oilers left Klefbom out of this tournament to allow more opportunity/ice time for their younger, less established prospects. And Klefbom has significantly less experience than Corrado. That’s pretty telling, in my opinion.

      Likewise, Granlund is not really comparable to Jensen, who has played way more pro games over multiple seasons AND played on a top line alongside superstars.

      The Canucks do have the youngest team in the tournament overall, so perhaps that is why they included Jensen and Corrado to even out the experience. But Jensen and Corrado are going to take away key minutes (top line, power play, etc) from less developed prospects who could really thrive from those opportunities and exposure to the next level.

      Hopefully that helps you understand where I was coming from and the facts are all there in my original post to back up my opinion. Nothing you have said has changed my way of thinking. Jensen and Corrado don’t belong in Penticton.

    • Last season was both Ortio and Granlunds first seasons in NA. Also, Ortio didn’t play a lot for the Flames. He played 8. Also, to answer your question, Granlund is 21. But like I said, he was a rookie last year in the AHL

    • Further to my point, if the Oilers actually sent their best 1993-born player, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be playing in this tournament. Jensen is a month OLDER than Nugent-Hopkins. Corrado is almost a full year OLDER than Jacob Trouba.

      So clearly I’m not concerned about age, I’m concerned that they have way more experience in the NHL — in key situations — than anybody else heading to Penticton.

      • For Canucks fans defending this decision, please point out comparable players based on the actual facts and do your research. I’ve done mine.

        Jensen has 101 pro games (99 reg season+2 playoff) including 19 NHL games, 17 of which were on Vancouver’s first line with the Sedins or a Sedin+Burrows this spring. Corrado has 90 pro games (84 reg season+6 playoff) including 22 NHL games (4 playoff games which is HUGE for experience).

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