Every year, Penguins Insider ranks the top free agents in the AHL. The Big Board is definitely a great go-to source for AHL players, especially for ones who aren't very familiar. Matt Corrente, signed to a two-way deal for one year by the Tampa Bay Lightning today, is one of those guys.
Here's the official release from the team:
LIGHTNING SIGN DEFENSEMAN MATT CORRENTE
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Matt Corrente to a one-year, two-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Corrente, 26, skated in 72 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League last season, collecting two goals and 11 points to go along with 136 penalty minutes. He ranked tied for first on the Checkers for plus/minus with a plus-9 rating. The Mississauga, Ontario native also led all Charlotte skaters for penalty minutes. Corrente set career highs in 2013-14 for games played and plus/minus.
The 6-foot, 205-pound defenseman has appeared in 34 career NHL games, all with the New Jersey Devils over parts of two seasons, posting six assists and 68 penalty minutes. He appeared in two postseason games with the Devils during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Corrente’s last two games played in the NHL were both against the Lightning during the 2010-11 regular season. Corrente has also appeared in 235 career AHL games, recording 15 goals and 62 points.Corrente was originally drafted by New Jersey in the first round, 30th overall, at the 2006 NHL Draft.
Corrente is clearly a depth signing for Syracuse. According to The Big Board, Corrente is listed as a "one-time first-round pick, (who) has AHL experience, grit." Since Crunch defenseman JP Cote only managed 33 games in a Crunch sweater last season due to call ups and injury, Corrente should be a nice addition for the Crunch and good insurance on the blue line alongside AHL'er Joey Mormina (who also didn’t play in every game last season, either, due to injury). The Crunch’s D-core will be fairly young again in 2014-2014 besides Cote and Mormina, especially with Dmitri Korobov bolting for the KHL, so the addition of Corrente is a welcome move that should help to shore up Syracuse's defense.
Given all of his AHL experience, Corrente should also be another strong voice of leadership in the locker room, if he can stay healthy and stay on roster. When asked about Corrente, an Albany blogger made the comment that she really didn't remember him because he was injured for most of his tenure there. Although he seems to have been pretty healthy this past season, where he played in a career-high 72 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, he wasn't so lucky during previous seasons. In 2012-2013, Corrente only played in 11 games the entire season with Albany. In 2011-2012, also with Albany, he played in 39 games. Obviously, keeping healthy will be key to keeping Corrente contributing.
During last season, Corrente managed 136 penalty minutes. That ranked him first on the Checkers in PIM. One would assume that Corrente will also pick up some of the tough guy slack created by the departure of PC Labrie. Along these lines, the Syracuse Crunch is still waiting for RFA Philippe Paradis to be signed. Eric Neilson, who has been the Crunch's top enforcer for the past two seasons (something he also was in Norfolk), was re-signed this past June. With the addition of Corrente, Syracuse's young roster shouldn't have much to fear in this department.