Does a reunion with Cody Franson make sense for the Maple Leafs?

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Cody Franson
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Cody Franson /

With the Chicago Blackhawks putting defenceman Cody Franson on waivers, would the Toronto Maple Leafs be interested in a reunion?

With the trade deadline almost a month away, there will be a lot of speculation surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs and it has started early with a familiar name.

It was reported that former Leafs’ defenceman Cody Franson was waived by the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. In 23 games with this season, the 30-year old has seven points including a goal while averaging 16:37 of icetime.

So how do the Leafs fit in all of this? Well it is no secret that the team could use an upgrade on the blue line especially on the right side. The real question is whether the Leafs would be in a position to put in a claim for Franson and whether a reunion makes sense.

More from Tip of the Tower

One obvious hurdle for the Toronto Maple Leafs is the fact that they are at the maximum contract limit with 50 on the books according to Capfriendly. Now if the Leafs want to add Franson, they could try to make a trade with Chicago so that a player can go the other way, much like they did when they traded for Calvin Pickard.

The other thing to consider is whether Mike Babcock would actually use Franson if he was acquired. Considering how he continues to rely on Roman Polak and now playing Travis Dermott on the right side, it would be tough to see Franson be a consideration for Babcock over either one.

The analytics certainly favour Franson which made the news of him being waived a bit of a surprise. The B.C. native will likely have interest from team’s looking for a bottom pairing defenceman or depth, but why are the Blackhawks pulling the plug? Here is what the media had to say about Franson in his time with the Chicago.

As Scott Powers of The Athletic mentions, the way Franson was used by Joel Quenneville also led to a boost in his possession numbers:

"Franson also created possession for the Blackhawks while alongside Duncan Keith on the top pairing. In 190 minutes together this season, Franson and Keith have had a 56.56 Corsi percentage. It didn’t translate to goals often, though. The Blackhawks had been outscored 8-3 with Keith and Franson on the ice.Franson has been utilized mostly in an offensive role. He has started 64.5 percent of the time in the offensive zone. Even when he was being consistently paired with Keith, Franson would often sit out shifts where Quenneville placed Keith on the ice for a defensive zone faceoff. Keith and Franson have a 66.67 offensive zone starting percentage together."

He also mentions that an injury to Franson made it hard for him to get back in the lineup, with Jordan Oesterle getting an opportunity with Keith in both offensive and defensive situations unlike Franson’s usage.

An NHL scout told Powers that while the numbers have made Franson a surprise this season, his skating and defensive play would make team’s hesitant to go after him. Considering the Leafs’ primary need is for a defensive minded player, the fit might not be ideal.

Considering the Leafs are at the contract limit, someone would have to go and it won’t be a defenceman. A team may be willing to trade for a winger on the Leafs’ roster like Nikita Soshnikov or Josh Leivo, but would Toronto move any of them just to accommodate Franson? Probably not.

At the same time there is a strong chance that a team with a higher waiver priority puts in a claim for Franson. So while the Maple Leafs should consider it there are reasons to believe why it is not the right move at the moment.

Next: 8 numbers to sum up the Leafs’ season so far

What do you think about the possibility of claiming Franson? Should the Toronto Maple Leafs consider it or is he not the right fit? Let us know in the comments below.