An interesting development in the Cody Franson contract talks today, one that seems to explain the reported desire from Franson‘s camp to sign a one-year contract for the second summer in a row. Darren Dreger is reporting that the Leafs are not willing to give Franson the one-year contract he’s asking for as the negotiations sit idle with camp underway.
If Dreger’s information is accurate, this is an interesting case where the Leafs appear to actually want to bridge a player to unrestricted free agency rather than renegotiate with him as an RFA in an off-season where the team has a whack of important players on expiring contracts. The fear on Nonis’ behalf is that a one-year contract puts the Leafs in a situation where they could easily lose Franson next off-season, when the Leafs are vulnerable (may not be able to afford him, and he could file for arbitration).
It could be that the Leafs’ glut of defence prospects makes Franson tradable in a season. Or it could be that he cements his place in the team’s core. Either way, having him locked up past this season at a cheap number may be preferred in the Leafs’ case, whether they are trading him or keeping him.
Franson’s position seems to be that he cannot receive the salary he desires given the current cap ceiling and the Leafs’ tight cap situation in particular. He rather not lock himself in at the projected $2.5 million figure the Leafs are offering for the next two years. Instead, he would like to take another one year deal, work at continuing his upward trajectory from last season over 82 games, and negotiate from a stronger bargaining position next off season.
More simply put, Franson may not want a two-year bridge into unrestricted free agency because, as it stands, he can’t get the salary he wants for the next two years. Franson hopes to bring his first big contract one year closer by signing the one year deal.
This is a 6’5 defenceman who really emerged offensively and added some snarl to his game last season. He’s a piece the Leafs are kind of counting on to fill out their top 4 next season. We’ll see if Nonis can patiently win this negotiation as he did with Kadri. The likes of Morgan Rielly coming to camp gunning for a spot and the cap space, and Paul Ranger fighting for minutes as well, may help his cause as far the club’s leverage goes.