Toronto Maple Leafs: Will Cody Franson be Traded?


After avoiding arbitration by signing a one-year deal worth $3.3 million, will Cody Franson sign a long-term contract extension or be traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Toronto Maple Leafs D Cody Franson signed another “show me” deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason. The one-year, $3.3 million deal bridges Franson to his first crack at unrestricted free agency next offseason.

With free agency on the horizon, the Leafs need to make their call on Franson now.

Is he a long-term stalwart with offensive potential that should be re-signed quickly to a deal with some term?

Or, is he a bungling mini-Dion Phaneuf who should be dealt before he walks next summer for nothing?

Let’s take a look at a look at the reasons why Cody Franson will be traded before the 2014-2015 trade deadline.

Cody Franson Will be Dealt By the Toronto Maple Leafs Because…

Mar 29, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson (4) celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Toronto Maple Leafs Lack Confidence in His Abilities If three consecutive one-year deals doesn’t give that away, nothing does. In a league where young stars like P.K. Subban, Taylor Hall, or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are locked up to long-term deals, the Toronto Maple Leafs have offered only one-year bridge deals to Franson. Even the Justin Braun-types get paid long-term these days. This lack of confidence in Franson extends to the ice. Cody Franson’s relative Quality of Competition was a -0.02, ranking fourth among Toronto’s defenders. Also, Franson’s offensive zone start % (OZS%) was about 42%, ranking third behind only youngsters Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly. The lesser quality of competition and relatively high OZS% reveal Franson to be a player that Randy Carlyle just didn’t trust to log important minutes or tough assignments. This is the first strike against Franson. 2. Franson Isn’t Offensive Enough to Offset the Awful Defense

Last season, Franson registered a -20 +/- for the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite the relatively easier ice time (described above).

The only way to offset horrendous defense is to provide solid offense.

Great news, right! Franson posted 33 points last season, leading the Leafs defenseman. Phew. He’s a keeper.

Here’s the thing.

Phaneuf registered 31 points but maintained a +2 rating, Gardiner managed 31 points and a -3 rating, and Morgan Rielly scored 27 points with a -13 rating (after a slow start and a strong finish to the season).

It gets even worse. Franson has never scored more than 8 goals. And, in terms of primary (or first) assists (generally regarded as more valuable than secondary) Franson is essentially tied with Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson in a for second place on the team.

The short version of the story: Franson simply doesn’t provide the offense needed to offset his poor defensive play. That’s strike two.

3. The Depth Chart Actually has Depth

After settling on the $3.3 mil deal for this season, Franson will certainly look for a raise to stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs next year and beyond. But, with Phaneuf’s $7 mil deal, Gardiner’s new $4 mil yearly contract, Stephane Robidas$3 mil/year and Roman Polak‘s $2.7 mil/year, the Leafs cannot afford to take on more salary on defense.

Instead, youngsters on the cusp of making the team like Stuart Percy, Matt Finn, Petter Granberg, and Korbinian Holzer all make less than $1 mil/year.

As Franson isn’t trusted with the hard defensive minutes anyway, any of these young D men could take Franson’s lineup spot, allowing Gardiner and Rielly to solidy their top-four roles.

Strike three.

What do you think, Leafs fans?

Is Cody Franson a replaceable part of the Toronto Maple Leafs defense? Or is he a bargain offensive defenseman that the Leafs should re-sign soon?