The pros and cons of trading Cody Franson

The pros and cons of trading Cody Franson

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TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 6: of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Edmonton Oilers during NHL game action February 6, 2012 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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:

PROS:

– 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).

CONS:

– 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.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
362 comments
Mitch92
Mitch92

Gord Stellick must be laughing his ass off right about now!

Bruffins
Bruffins

is this the mashup or is the new one?

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

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 . 

LeafsGuru
LeafsGuru

Have to think they a willing to shake up the roster, I'm expecting some blockbusters now

The_Polish_Cannon
The_Polish_Cannon

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. 

Savo43
Savo43

man we got rid of the Poulin wall?

Bruffins
Bruffins

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.



Bruffins
Bruffins

Hey guys, has Loiselle been fired yet?


WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! BEST OFFSEASON EVER!!!!! 

Zep2
Zep2

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

The_Polish_Cannon
The_Polish_Cannon

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

Mcost61
Mcost61

@Burtonboy  Well at least they got walking around money to go with their walking papers

reenergized
reenergized

@LeafsGuru Lupal Reimer for Kane

Bozak prospect + for ROR



Okay, I'm done with teh fantasy stuff for now ... 

MikeGartner11
MikeGartner11

@Bruffins Your tireless letter writing campaign about the 'Granberg incident of '14' sealed the deal 

DJBrianBurke
DJBrianBurke

@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.

reenergized
reenergized

@Greg Fenton @LeafsGuru Not sure I agree ... nobody saw this coming and I bet nobody will see the player shake up coming if in fact it does come ... 

reenergized
reenergized

@Greg Fenton @reenergized @LeafsGuru easy sure ... everybody expected sure ... easy things to say ... NOBODY saw this coming with Dumbas being hired and both vet mgrs being dumped ...



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 ... 

reenergized
reenergized

@Greg Fenton @reenergized @LeafsGuru that's why I put "almost" in parenthesis


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 ....  

LeafsGuru
LeafsGuru

He's over paid, and really just a 2C unless it's a low end prospect, still doesn't solve our 1C issues

reenergized
reenergized

@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
LeafsGuru

Not bad at all! but I still think he is overpaid. Upgrade over bozak yes

Savo43
Savo43

@djamon @LeafsGuru Bozak is faster, and was very comparable offensively to ROR last year actually. If Bozak played all 82 he was on pace to very similar numbers.