Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Cody Franson remains available one month into the free agency period
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There was some hope among fans and speculation in the media that the Leafs might bring the big defenceman back. Unless the team finds a way to move captain Dion Phaneuf or Stephane Robidas, however, there simply isn’t enough room on the roster for Franson.
The focus moving ahead will be placed on the team’s young defencemen like Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner and Stuart Percy. Franson’s return, absent the departure of someone else, would interfere with this focus.
This raises the question, “If not Toronto, then where else could Franson end up playing next season?”
Feb 24, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson (44) during warmups prior to the game against the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
At the very least, it seems safe to rule out the Nashville Predators. Franson has already had two chances to make things work in Music City; I doubt he’ll get a third chance.
Franson has been linked to the Boston Bruins and this is one potential destination spot for him. The Bruins are still reeling from the loses of Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk so they could use an extra big body on the blue line. The addition of Franson would also help to repair some of the self-inflicted damage caused by trading away the offensively gifted Dougie Hamilton.
(I’m not trying to suggest Franson and Hamilton are comparable in terms of offensive production, but that Franson’s addition would help soften the blow.)
The only problem with Boston concerns money. According to CapFriendly.com, they have $4.8 million left in cap space for next season. Franson is likely looking for something in this range over a multi-year period, which would push Boston to the limit and make any further roster moves extremely difficult to pull off.
In this sense, the Buffalo Sabres and the Arizona Coyotes are more natural destinations for Franson. Both teams have plenty of cap space available. A bonus for Buffalo would be Franson’s prowess on the power play where the team ranked at the very bottom of the league last season. Depending on what happens to Andrej Meszaros, there might even be a spot available for Franson in Buffalo; the team only has seven defenceman under contract right now.
Feb 14, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson (4) before the game against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
The situation in Arizona is a little more complicated. They have seven active defenceman under contract right now, but the financial situation in Arizona is never very clear and while they have cap space available on paper, the situation in reality might be different. They have an interest, however, in replacing the lost offensive production of Keith Yandle and Franson could certainly help in this department.
If I had to bet, I’d say Buffalo is the most likely destination for Franson. It makes sense from both a financial perspective and in terms of the team’s present needs. In any event, Toronto is probably out of the picture so it’s time to hang up those Franson jerseys and get on with our hockey lives again.
What are your thoughts? Where do you think Franson will end up playing next season? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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