Cody Franson and the Toronto Maple Leafs avoided salary arbitration yesterday by agreeing to a final-hour, one-year, $3.3 million pact. The question now is whether Franson will be a Leaf or donning another team’s sweater on opening night of the 2014-15 season.
Here’s both sides of the argument, as best I see it:
– The most convincing argument for moving Franson: His value, as a UFA to be on July 1, 2015, is likely to to decline by the game unless he has a really big season or something unforeseen. If the Leafs don’t think they can get a deal done with him based on their dealings with him in the past, it’s as good of a time as any to move him.
– The Leafs have brought a couple of right-handers into the organization in Robidas and Polak, and rightie Petter Granberg appears to be ready to make the jump.
– They have three good powerplay point options outside of Franson in Phaneuf, Rielly and Gardiner, and we all know Kessel runs that first PP unit beyond any shadow of a doubt. Franson’s uncanny ability to put through point shots is a nice asset, but the Leafs’ powerplay probably survives and still succeeds without it. It’s worth mentioning that, during the season-crippling slump, the powerplay also dipped, and the Franson-Phaneuf pairing gave up a couple of shorthanded goals and way too many shorthanded scoring chances against, although the clear solution there was to split them up and pair them off each with a mobile puck mover, of which the Leafs had two young talented specimens.
– Franson struggled to stay above water in his 5v5 second-pair duties, and even his even-strength point production was far from overwhelming. Whether or not Franson has the foot speed to shut down second-line forwards across the League is a big question mark.
– The Leafs have watched some pretty good assets walk out of this organization for nothing in recent summers, and cashing in on Franson while he still has a full season under contract at a pretty good cap figure would make sense and might be a little bit refreshing as far as the club’s asset management goes (note: it’s not good asset management, however, if they trade a decent defenceman for a poor return).
– While Franson’s thoughts on the contract announcement — suggesting he was happy to have struck a deal avoiding arbitration — were to be expected, he certainly didn’t have to volunteer that he “wants to be in Toronto for a long time.” The contract disputes of years past has led to the natural inference that there isn’t a great relationship between the club and the player — and by extension the thinking that he would definitely walk next summer — but that might not be the case, at least to the extent some of us have imagined. It is a distinct possibility that Franson took a little less money to avoid the ugly arbitration process, which as an action speaks just as loudly as those aforementioned words.
– The old Brian Burke adage about needing 10 NHL-ready defencemen seems rather idealistic, but it speaks to a self-evident truth about the need for depth on the blueline. If we assume Granberg is going to get an opportunity, having Franson gives the Leafs a solid group of 7 plus a few “could bes” off the Marlies like Percy and MacWilliam. That’s decent depth. Remember, for all their misfortune in terms of injuries at center, the Leafs got really fortunate when it came to the health of their regular blueliners last season.
– We could get into a discussion here about Dion Phaneuf playing on his left versus his right, a change which Franson’s presence come the Fall might necessitate, but the main point about depth is to have options throughout a long 82-game grind. Don’t just jettison a quality asset because the logistics of lefties vs. righties might not make sense on paper in July.
– Robidas and Polak are regarded as strong own-zone guys and are right handed; quite simply, the Leafs made a bet last season that Franson would be able to step seamlessly into a second pair role/top 4 minutes, but it didn’t just happen without some pretty big bumps in the road. No one really knows for sure how the pairings will shake down, but there should be less pressure to deploy Franson as a top 4 guy on the right side now that the team has more options there. If Franson and Gardiner find the top form they’ve shown in spurts together, great; there’s the second pair. If not, Franson does not have to be relied upon so much at 5v5 if he doesn’t earn the trust.
Conclusion: I’ve said all of this to essentially arrive at the diplomatic, classically Dave Nonis answer of “deal this asset if the price makes sense, but don’t deal him just because.” You’re welcome.
If this is the mash-up still, check out this totally unrelated article about Canadian google search trends:
I think there's some jokes to be made referencing the movie Little Big League
If I'm not mistaken Dubis is a huge proponent of hanging on to the puck and allowing skill players the latitude to do so . Dump and chase hockey may not be the direction the Leafs are heading from the sounds of it .
The fact that a kid my age has been hired as the assistant GM of one of the biggest sports franchises in the world is making me feel pretty shitty about what I've accomplished in life.
I don't even care what else happens, we could trade Phaneuf for a 7th (probably have to add in some picks to balance out the value, eh Yak and Wiski?) and Ill still be happy.
Hiring Shanahan in the midst of a colossal collPse was the equivalent of fiddling while the team burned
However, there's no doubt who is in charge. Nothing much to complain about so fae
This could be a great progressive move for the leafs, but it'll take a few years to really evaluate the impact Dubas will have with the organization. Unfortunately the leafs will be mocked and criticized simply because of his age
@Bruffins I think this is still the mashup. i thinnnnnnk.
@Burtonboy Well at least they got walking around money to go with their walking papers
@Burtonboy that is even better news - now why the h... is Carlyle still here
@LeafsGuru Lupal Reimer for Kane
Bozak prospect + for ROR
Okay, I'm done with teh fantasy stuff for now ...
@LeafsGuru Dion and Franson for Weber :)
@Bruffins I heard Dubas hates Granberg.
@TheCanucksnaphook I'm sure you can get a snappy lapel pin, flair is always good
@Bruffins Your tireless letter writing campaign about the 'Granberg incident of '14' sealed the deal
@The_Polish_Cannon Hockey brass is an old boys club, I think most teams might get the same flack, we just have more "reporters" to dish it out if it goes wrong.
I will never forget
@LeafsGuru which one?
Everybody (almost) thinks we need roster changes too ... harder to do? sure but still people are expecting it ... but when it happens, chances are it will catch all of us by surprise including you ...
@LeafsGuru I thought that was the least balanced in our favor LOL ... :)
You may be right about our roster, but It wouldn't surprise me one bit if we made a big change ... he stated as much, TL stated as much ... we've made small changes on the ice bigger changes in Mgmt, I don't think they're finished yet ....
He's over paid, and really just a 2C unless it's a low end prospect, still doesn't solve our 1C issues
@LeafsGuru Ahhh but here is where we disagree ... I think he would solve our 1C problem ... So ROR Kadri Holland Kot(don't remember the rest of his surname) Santo and Nylander coming up isn't a horrible center core ...
@LeafsGuru He's a HUGE upgrade on Bozak.