The addition of Cody Franson instantly improves the Buffalo Sabres’ anemic power play
Things didn’t go well for the Buffalo Sabres last season. They finished dead last in the standings but still somehow failed to win the first overall pick in this year’s draft. That meant they had to settle for Jack Eichel over Connor McDavid. (Life can be tough, no?)
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A key factor behind the Sabres’ miserable season was their power play. At 13.4 per cent, they had the NHL’s worst power play by almost two whole points. Toss in eight short-handed goals and you can see why Buffalo’s season quickly fell off the cliff: they weren’t very good with the man advantage (or in general).
That should change this season with the arrival of newcomers Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly plus the return of mainstays Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis. There’s now a nucleus of solid forwards in Buffalo; they were just missing that one final piece on the blue line until Thursday hit.
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
Franson led the Leafs’ defence in points and power points for the last two seasons. His deceptive shot and ability to dish pucks kept the Leafs alive in games where they had no right being there. Assuming a larger role in Buffalo where he’s no longer competing with Dion Phaneuf, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner for power play time, you can expect Franson to top his career-best of 18 power play points (one goal, 17 assists) set during the 2013-2014 season with the Leafs.
If there’s a knock against Franson, it concerns his defensive game, but it’s important to remember that he was a member of the Leafs for the majority of the last four seasons. Thus, his minus-24 rating as a Leaf should be read with some caution, especially on a Sabres team moving up in the world (Franson went plus-25 as a member of the Nashville Predators).
This means the Sabres might be inclined to use Franson on the penalty kill as well, but priority will likely be given to the team’s tougher defencemen like Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges. Having said this, it’s not like Franson is a push over: he’s been among the league’s top hitters for the past two seasons.
In Franson, the Sabres have added a dynamic defenceman who instantly improve their offence but also provides them some added muscle on the blue line. After a horrible season, things are really starting to look up for Buffalo. They might even make the playoffs!
What are your thoughts on the addition of Franson? Can he help revive the Sabres’ struggling power play? Does he only work in Toronto? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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