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After profiling both big and small forwards the last two days, today we turn our focus to the blue line for the first time as the ‘Top 25 Avalanche Under 25’ series continues with #23, Cody Corbett. In case you missed previous installments, don’t forget to go read about #24 Samuel Henley and #25 Troy Bourke. Today’s focus is, like Henley, an undrafted player who was a late bloomer in his junior career before moving to pro hockey.
Across the 6 BSN Avalanche writers, Corbett averaged out at 24.3 overall, with a high placement of 24, but appeared only on 4 of 6 ballots.
Who is Cody Corbett?
A defenseman known mostly for his offensive prowess, Corbett possesses good size at 6’1″ and 194 pounds and in his overage year for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League blew up for 61 points in 65 games played. As Corbett moved into pro hockey with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL last season, his offensive numbers struggled to match his reputation as he scored just 6 points in 47 games played. Injuries early in the season and a blue line loaded with AHL veterans made it difficult for Corbett to find a place as a rookie.
As injuries developed along the blue line, Corbett slowly found his way into the lineup and his two-way game flourished down the stretch as the Monsters made a push for the playoffs. While his offense didn’t translate into production, his ability to win battles in the corners and move the puck out of his own zone was a real asset for a team that occasionally struggled to do so. With only 47 pro games on his resume, it’s tough to get too excited about Corbett’s future because his greatest success came as an overage player at the junior level.
That said, when you see skills like this on display, it’s hard not to feel excited about what his future could hold.
What is the future for Cody Corbett?
This is a murkier picture than our two previously profiled players because Corbett’s ceiling is still a mystery. While Bourke is the smaller center with electric offensive skills that could blossom but probably won’t be able to overcome his natural lack of size and Henley is the big, rugged forward whose size and smarts could see him play a defensive but ultimately limited role in the NHL but lack of raw skills will prevent him from being anything more, Cody Corbett is kind of the amalgam of the two.
He’s got good size for a defenseman and shows both offensive and defensive acumen but a limited track record of success keeps the optimism in check. He’s not a particularly dangerous shooter and his passing doesn’t look out of place in the AHL, meaning that’s probably where he belongs long-term, and he’s not a particularly physical player on the defensive end nor does he standout with his stickwork but he reads the game well and consistently puts himself in positions to be successful. He’s a hard-working player who plays within himself and rarely overextends himself, making him a reliable player in a league full of volatility.
Maybe the biggest blockade to the pathway of success for Corbett will be that he just might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the end of this past season, he was part of a 10 (!) man rotation on the blue line that was scrapping for minutes. With Colorado’s best prospects in Duncan Siemens, Stefan Elliott, Chris Bigras, and Mason Geertsen and AHL veterans Mat Clark, Ben Youds, and Maxim Noreau all ahead of Corbett on the pecking order, Corbett quickly becomes the victim of an overwhelming numbers game.
A few of those guys, namely Siemens and Bigras, should become mainstays in Colorado sooner rather than later but until they do they are likely to take up a significant amount of minutes that Corbett could be receiving to develop. Instead, he’s going to be older than some of those guys and likely receiving fewer minutes in a more limited role, a terrible combination for his development.
Corbett faces a steep road ahead of him in order to earn legitimate minutes in the AHL let alone be in the NHL conversation someday.