When Brian Burke decided to pull the trigger on a deal that would send Brett Lebda to Nashville for Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi, Leafs Nation was, for one, ecstatic, and two, left wondering how this deal would pan out, given the Leafs’ lineup. We couldn’t stop talking about it.
Well it seems we still can’t, because since then things have taken a weird turn.
Lombardi was viewed as an injury write-off, many of us predicting he’d play less than 60 games total as a Leaf. Franson, on the other hand, was seen by many as a defenceman with offensive upside and perhaps on the verge of a breakout year with his minutes increased. Fast-forward two games into the season and Franson hasn’t got a sniff of icetime, while Lombardi has already scored a game-winning goal against the Leafs’ biggest rival.
Franson has made himself heard over this issue he’s facing, and it’s clear that he isn’t happy. And quite frankly, I’m a little puzzled as well.
I can see where the guy is coming from. Coming off an 80 game season last year, that’s where Franson is capped at this year and there’s no guarantee he’ll see more than 70 over the course of this campaign. That’s a tough one to swallow for a young guy in a contract year who was looking to make a real contribution in the top four on the back-end. He’ll get his chance to lock down a spot Saturday when he makes his debut, but then we’ll just start having the same sort of debate about someone else.
I don’t blame Wilson for sitting Franson if he’s really the weakest link, but with seven top four defenceman, something has to give eventually. If players are going to be left in the press-box, they aren’t going to want to play in Toronto, and it’s as simple as that.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the internal competition but it’s a tough line to walk when you start making players upset or wishing they were elsewhere.
On to the links
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