Cody Franson has avoided arbitration with the Toronto Maple Leafs by signing a one-year deal worth $3.3 million dollars.
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) July 21, 2014
Franson, 26, lead the Maple Leafs defence in point production the last 2 seasons with 4g, 25a, 29pts in 45 games in 2012-2013 and 5g, 28a, 33pts in 79 games in 2013-14, most of which came on the power play.
Franson has struggled defensively under former Leafs coach Ron Wilson and again under Randy Carlyle this past season in an increased role; there wasn’t a lot of fight in his camp to go after a higher number, of which he was deserving based on offensive production levels good enough to place him 20th among defencemen in 2012-13 + 2013-14 point scoring.
Leafs GM Dave Nonis was said to have a trade in the works that would have sent Franson to the Montreal Canadiens for Josh Gorges, only for Gorges to block the trade and instead waive his No Trade Clause to play in Buffalo.
This isn’t the first time that the Leafs and Franson have been at odds with contract negotiations; Franson held out of training camp this past season and instead started camp with Ryerson University. Avoiding arbitration, however, is a positive as far as the relationship goes if the Leafs opt to hold onto Franson. This contract does bridge him into unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2015, when he’ll finally be able to get the term and dollars he’s been waiting for.
There has been a lot of talk of a sign and trade with Franson and this reasonable price makes the 6’5, 215lbs defenceman a valuable trade asset with Toronto’s right side defence full with Dion Phaneuf and new additions Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak taking up places.
There have been rumours that the New York Islanders would be interested in acquiring Franson with Josh Bailey being the forward coming back the other way.