NHL Free Agency: Joe “Scorvo” Corvo Returning To Carolina Hurricanes

July 8th, 2010 No Comments

Joe Corvo is returning to Raleigh.

After being traded to Washington at the 2010 Trade Deadline in a deal that sent a 2011 second rounder (eventually traded to Philadelphia for Jonathan Matsumoto), prospect Oskar Osala (in the AHL), and defenseman Brian Pothier (now a free agent) to Carolina, Corvo is once again coming back to a place where he just might have prospered most.

The 33-year-old powerplay specialist was inked to a two-year, $4.5 million contract Wednesday afternoon by the Carolina Hurricanes; perhaps a deal that will finally settle Corvo down for the remainder of his career.

After being drafted in the fourth round, 83rd overall, by the Kings in 1997, at the age of 19, Corvo didn’t even begin play for Los Angeles until the 2002-2003 season. However, the American defenseman blossomed there, progressing from 50 games and 12 points in ’02-’03 to 72 games and 25 points in ’03-’04 and, finally, following the lockout, 81 games and an impressive 40 points.

Although Los Angeles never made the playoffs in any of his three seasons there, Corvo still racked up a 27 goals from the blue line, including nine with a man-advantage, and an solid plus-25 rating.

Following the 2005-’06 season, Corvo was signed by the Ottawa Senators, where he continued to improve. Although his goal production (14 to 8 ) and point production (40 to 37) both dropped, Corvo found a better grove as a true defenseman with the Senators in his first year there, and also had his first postseason experience, posting nine points and a plus-four rating during Ottawa’s three playoff series.

After putting up six goals (one on the powerplay), 21 assists, and a plus-13 rating in just 51 games during the 2007-’08 season, Corvo was surprisingly sent to Carolina along with RW Patrick Eaves in exchange for LW Cory Stillman and D Mike Commodore. Of the four players involved in that trade, all of them were no longer with the ‘Canes or ‘Sens for a point this spring, with Corvo in Washington, Eaves in Detroit, Stillman in Florida, and Commodore in Columbus.

Quickly, Carolina found out what Corvo can do. Although the ‘Canes fell short of the playoffs in ’07-’08, Corvo recorded five powerplay goals and two more even-strength tallies in just 23 games down the stretch, as well as 14 assists and a plus-four rating. Raleigh had begun to fall in love with Corvo’s fast skating, production from the point, and top-pairing-worthy defensive support.

However, he was just getting started with the Hurricanes. In the 2008-2009 season, Corvo had one of the best seasons of his career despite having a negative plus-minus rating for the first time. In addition to developing back in his own end, Corvo added 14 goals (eight powerplay) and 24 assists, as well as tying his career low in penalty minutes for a full season with just 18.

Furthermore, almost half of Corvo’s goals were game winners, including this particularly memorable one (no. 10 on video), earning him the “Scorvo” nickname for the first (but certainly not last) time.

Corvo went on to add seven more points in 18 playoff games.

After an injury sidelined him for much of last year, keeping him to just 34 appearances and 12 points (with four man-advantage goals, on the contrary) with Carolina, the specialist was sent to the Capitals to become Mike Green’s partner in Washington’s push for the Stanley Cup.

Unfortunately for the ‘Caps, neither of those plans worked out. Corvo played some of his worst hockey with Washington, posting six points and a minus-four rating in 18 regular season games before earning just two points, another minus-four rating, and four PIM in one seven-game playoff series, the full extent of the Capitals postseason appearance.

Meanwhile, 34-year-old defenseman Brian Pothier, who was traded to Carolina almost as Corvo’s counterpart, was almost as fruitless with the Hurricanes as Corvo was with the Capitals. Pothier put up just one goal and three assists in 20 games to go along with a plus-minus rating eight notches into the negatives.

…And so, with the Hurricanes lacking much defensive support beyond Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, and Jamie McBain, Corvo was once again brought in. He will make $2 million this year and then his usual $2.5 million next year, but, the way the Hurricanes play with Corvo at the helm, will probably play like he’s getting paid much more than that.

Corvo will also, as he did before, give Carolina some much-needed man-advantage support, where the ‘Canes were 22nd (16.9%) last season and 18th (18.7%) the year before.

Expect to see the blue-liner join the top pairing with Tim Gleason at first, but be switched around to play with plenty of other partners in the ‘Canes youthful new-look defense. Corvo may also see a role in penalty killing, where Carolina also has struggled, killing off just 80.4% of penalties last season, ranking 19th.

Additionally, Corvo’s signing is almost certainly cutting all ties between Carolina and Pothier. The question remains whether Washington is looking to pull a similar stunt that the ‘Canes did yesterday with Corvo, but, either way, Pothier was most definitely a more-expensive, older, and less-consistent option than Raleigh’s beloved Joe “Scorvo” Corvo.

In the end, it was always true that Corvo had earned his keep with the Hurricanes. And, by golly, it’s good to have ol’ “Scorvo” back.

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