Cody Franson is still on the unrestricted free agent market. Yup, you read that right – a young, big, right-handed shooting offensive defenseman is still available.
Mind, blown – well not really, but Franson's availability is somewhat fascinating that he hasn't picked a team, or a team hasn't picked him, since free agency started July 1.
At one point it appeared Franson was going to cash in mightily in this period. He’s 27 years old, 6-foot-5 and a right handed shot. But strangely, he’s still around for teams looking for blueline help.
As players got scooped up at a medium speed Wednesday, Franson bid his time.
Why has it taken this long? Generally blueliners of Franson’s 6-foot-5 size and offensive ability – he had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto last year – go in UFA pretty quickly.
Why the trepidation for the man who has signed three-straight one-year contracts just to get to this point – to choose a longer term deal?
According to Pro Hockey Talk, Franson’s agent Gerry Johannson is looking for ‘Jeff Petry money’ for the defenseman who made $3.3 million last year.
Johannson believes Jeff Petry’s new six-year, $33 million extension is the right “ballpark” for his client as he heads into the open market. Petry’s deal includes a full no-movement clause in the first three years of the deal and a 15-team no-trade clause for the final three years.
The way Franson didn’t mesh with the skating-oriented Nashville Predators probably didn’t help after mid-February trade. Especially the way the NHL is turning into a more speed-oriented league again.
But he was actually better than the classic eyeball test. He scored just one goal and had three assists while playing 15:25 per-game for Nashville. That was down from 21:23 he played with the Maple Leafs.
Franson was a victim of being a good defenseman in the wrong situation. All of his underlying numbers were phenomenal: When adjusting for score, he saw 56% of all total shot attempts go towards the opposing goaltender, more than any other Preds defenseman. He also was only on the ice for 23.85 shots per 60 minutes, the fewest of any blue liner since joining the team.
Remember all those times he made a mistake to cost the team a goal? Well, you probably remember way more of them than there actually are. He was only out for nine 5v5 goals against, also the fewest of any regular blue liner.
Where does Franson now fit? The Vancouver Canucks says The Hockey Writers, as a potential Kevin Bieksa replacement. Also this would bring the Sicamous, B.C. native back to his home area.
Causeway Crowd says the Bruins could be a good fit for Franson as a second pairing defenseman.
But a lot of this depends on what Franson wants. He’s been waiting on one-year contracts via tough negotiations just to get to this moment where he can finally have some level of security.
He has played in the Toronto fishbowl the last few years, and hasn’t won much. Is he fine with continuing to go short-term for a per-year raise (unlikely but possible) in hopes that the big deal is still right around the corner? Does he want to go to a contender for less money? Guess is he probably wants the years on a deal that he's never had in his career, but who knows.
There’s a lot of questions about a guy who at one point many thought was the top unrestricted free agent defenseman on the market.
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