Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Cody Franson worth a look?

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Cody Franson #11 of the Chicago Blackhawks advances the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center on November 1, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Cody Franson #11 of the Chicago Blackhawks advances the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center on November 1, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been constantly linked with trading for a defenceman this offseason, but one free agent could be worth considering instead.

Cody Franson is a player well-known to fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, having spent just shy of four seasons with the organisation between 2011 and 2015.

Franson’s time in Toronto coincided with some poor Leafs teams in recent memory, bar the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

That season, the team managed to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years and Franson was a positive contributor – registering six points (three goals and three assists) in the seven-game series against the Boston Bruins.

Since then, Franson has been a part of a poor Buffalo Sabres team, but was surprisingly picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks last summer.

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The British Columbia native featured in 23 games for the Hawks and spent more time playing for the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL – where he put up 13 points in 13 playoff appearances.

Franson is currently an Unrestricted Free Agent and is likely to come at a very low cost to any team interested in boosting their defence, with his last contract paying him just $1 million.

His low cost and performances could make the Leafs consider adding him to their line-up, with Franson having his best possession stats with the Hawks last season.

The 30-year-old had a 59.9% Corsi For rating last season and has eclipsed 50% on average for three of the four NHL teams he has appeared for – the only team he averaged below 50% with, was the Leafs.

Advanced NHL career statistics
SeasonTeamGPCFCACF%CF% rel
2 yrsBUF1271671166250.13.7
3 yrsNSH1642036176453.62.6
4 yrsTOR2363372373847.42.1

Provided by View Original Table

The Leafs are a vastly improved team from Franson’s time and would be an ideal destination for him.

Last season, his 23-game spell with the Blackhawks showed that Franson still has the potential to play in the NHL, with this comparison chart showing his passing and defensive stats are still very high.

He is most likely suitable for a third-pairing for the Leafs and would add a big body at 6 foot 5, 225 pounds, something that Leafs fans seem to be hoping for on social media.

Franson’s cheap cost also includes the fact he would not cost additional assets, something that a trade would.

His right-handedness means he would likely see more ice time with the Leafs, who would be able to rotate the likes of Ron Hainsey and Connor Carrick over an 82-game season, depending on how Mike Babcock wishes his team to play.

Franson’s offensive stats have not been as solid as they were with the Leafs, but his defensive capabilities would be the attractive part of potentially signing him.

He’s not a world-beater, but he would be a solid addition to the Leafs’ defensive core and his price could certainly make him an attractive option for the organisation.

A one-year deal, allowing Franson to prove his worth, would be the best option for both parties as, if he fails to live up to expectations, the Leafs can let him walk or use him as trade bait before the end of the season.

With Timothy Liljegren likely needing a bit more time to develop with the Toronto Marlies, adding a short-term player such as Franson could give the organisation some breathing room.

Next: Andreas Johnsson signs qualifying offer

What do you think Leafs Nation? Would adding Franson on a short-term deal help the Toronto Maple Leafs defensively? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!