From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2009-10 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2010-11. Next up, Joe Corvo.
#77 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Jun 20, 1977
UFA ($2,750,000 in 2009-10)
|Regular Season (CAR)||34||4
|Regular Season (WSH)||18
|Regular Season (TOT)||52
Key Stat: Joe Corvo logged only the fifth-most ATOI and ATOI at 5-on-5 amongst Caps' defensemen in the first round series vs. Montreal.
Interesting Stat: He played more than 26 minutes per night in half of the first 26 games to start the season for Carolina before suffering a terrifying injury on November 30, 2009: a slice into his calf by Karl Alzner's skate that required more than 100 stitches.
The Good: Corvo rebounded after suffering that injury enough to parlay his performance into a role with the league's top regular season team. With the Capitals, he showed flashes of the type of offensive skill and smart decision making on the attack that could have served the Caps well during a deep playoff run. Coaches so often preach the type of "throw it on net through traffic" play that Corvo made to score in Game 1 vs. Montreal, but few execute. And Corvo's oft-cited blast from the slot in Game 6 that Jaroslav Halak snared with the leather goes in those nine other times out of ten. Ah, well.
It took him a while for the coaching staff to find the best pair mate for him. A stint alongside Tom Poti turned ugly, as neither defender is a frequent banger along the boards, each instead playing similar roles of moving the puck up ice once loosed from an opponent. But pairing Corvo with Shaone Morrisonn revealed more of the former's effectiveness (and covered some of his deficiencies).
Corvo proved to be quite disciplined, committing just one minor penalty in 18 regular season Capitals games (though committed two in the post-season). He also protected the puck well in the regular season, finishing, in those 18 games, with far and away the best minutes-per-giveaway of all the team's D.
Finally, he also provided (in theory, anyway) sorely-needed experience to the Caps' blueline. Once Poti went down in Game 6, Corvo became the most-seasoned Caps' defender with 486 NHL games played.
The Bad: Joe Corvo was perhaps the most controversial of the Capitals' trade deadline acquisitions, instigating vigorous debate here and elsewhere. Not so much for what GM George McPhee dealt away to put him in a Caps' sweater -- Oskar Osala scored 2 goals and 1 assist in eight Calder Cup playoff games, for those keeping score -- but for whether the rearguard, who boldly wears #77, adequately fulfilled the team's need for a top four defender. Reviewing our expectations from our trade deadline roundtable, Corvo turned out to be neither the "clear upgrade" over the dealt Brian Pothier that was sought, nor did he "eat up minutes of some other top four D," especially some of the heavy workload of Mike Green.
Instead, Corvo spent the fewest minutes on ice during the post-season of any Caps' defender not named Shaone. Including just 12:51 TOI during pivotal Game 5. And against mostly weaker competition. Part of his lack of top four minutes can be attributed to the rise of John Carlson. But, regardless, Corvo was brought in to be more than a third pair defender, and one who saw virtually no PK time. What's worse, he ended up earning himself the worst +/- on the team with that ice time, one that outscored its opponents 68 to 51 in games in which Corvo played.
Finally, he, incidentally, became a prominent new addition to a PP unit -- averaging the second-most PP time amongst D-men -- that scored but once in thirty-three opportunities, after leading the NHL in PP efficiency during the regular season. Coincidence? There's plenty of blame to go around for that extra man futility, but the results don't speak well for someone acquired to make the league's top PP even more dangerous.
The Vote: Rate Corvo below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the post-trade portion of his season - if he had the best season as a Capital that you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst season you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: As Corey pointed out, Coach Bruce Boudreau seemed to have lost confidence in Joe Corvo as his time in D.C. wore on, someone about whom Coach spoke so highly after the trade deadline deal. What happened to the Joe Corvo that carried Carolina on the PP in 2008-09? Did lingering effects of his calf injury play any role? Is there any reasonable contract on which player and club can -- and should -- agree, when Corvo may wind up being a third pair defenseman in 2010-11?