Weekend Mashup: $2.2 million apart


Updating on Elliot’s excellent piece about Monday’s arbitration case, word is the Maple Leafs and Cody Franson have submitted their initial proposals and are more than $2 million apart on salary.

Being $2.2 million apart probably isn’t outrageous as far as this nasty process goes, but it certainly sounds like a huge divide when the player’s desired contract figure is more than double that of the club.

Always a demeaning process, the Maple Leafs have anchored their offer as if Franson is worth the same as he was paid on his previous one-year deal, which Franson felt was a pittance last summer and set out to prove he could do what he did in the half-season over the full slog in 2013-14; he posted only 4 more points in 34 fewer games despite two more minutes of time on ice per game at even strength (along with very similar PP time). Franson has asked for Slava Voynov money; that obviously doesn’t jive in terms of age/potential and even strength production, which actually decreased from the shortened season to the full one for Franson (16 EVPts in 2012-13, 15 EVPts in 2013-14). A big part of that dip in 5v5 production is attributable to his 41.1% zone starts (versus 45.5% in 2012-13) against better competition as the Leafs looked to him as a second-pair guy at even strength, although these type of numbers aren’t used in arbitration hearings.

A half-way split would make it a reasonably attractive contract at $3.1 million per season, able to be moved for value if the Leafs go that route. The walkaway point is $3.5 million, but a figure south of $4 million seems unlikely to be walked away from.

It becomes a question of whether or not the Leafs think last season indicated he’s capable of handling top 4 minutes well or not, and if he’s a fit on the rejigged blueline. If they think he’s worth it and can play those minutes on a good team, pushing Phaneuf to the left side and lining up Robidas, Franson and Polak down the right is a distinct possibility. If not, the Leafs will be hoping this contract settlement comes in at a nice marketable price and will proceed to try to move him.

The Leafs have $11 million in cap space remaining with Franson, Jake Gardiner and James Reimer left to sign, but there’s probably a little more room than that given there’s 15 forwards currently on the cap chart.

This will be an interesting situation to follow early this week.


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