After weeks of speculation, Dave Nonis and the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally reached an agreement with defencemen Cody Franson.
On the verge of arbitration, Franson signed a one year $3.3m contract with Toronto. The 26 year old defencemen tallied 33 points last season for Toronto. Franson was no stranger to throwing hits this past season either, registering an impressive 282 hits by season end.
Franson was thought to be on the way out in a trade involving Josh Gorges. But after Gorges blatantly declined, Nonis went to work on resigning Franson. I thought for sure the only way this situation would be resolved is through arbitration, but apparently I was mistaken.
What's his role?
With the deal done, Franson can now focus on improving his game and fighting for a spot on one of Toronto’s top lines. The verdict is still out for many as to whether this was a good signing for the Leafs or not. There are some that believe it was far too expensive and that the Leafs are wasting their time.
I believe that Franson has a lot to offer this team. He’s got loads of potential and was one of the top defencemen for the Leafs last year. I believe he’s not as defensive-minded as he should be and gets caught pinching in too much most times. But let’s face it, 33 points is 33 points.
The Leafs' defense is fragile at best. The organization and its fans have seen a number of defensemen come and go. John Micheal-Liles, Tim Gleason, Carl Gunnarsson and Paul Ranger are a few examples. The point is this team has never been good defensively.
The Leafs are in desperate need of someone like Duncan Keith or Niklas Kronwall to help tighten up things in the defensive end. And until they find someone like that, this team will continue to be weak defensively in my opinion.
Chance to prove himself
Regardless, Franson has one more year to prove himself and help the Leafs succeed. I believe Franson would certainly benefit being on a line with veteran Stephan Robidas. Robidas is a stay-at-home defensemen with plenty of experience who will be able cover for Franson when required.
I really hope Robidas can be a leader to guys like Franson, Gardiner and Morgan Reilly and help them improve their game this season. Unfortunately, I believe Franson will be moved at the trade deadline this year.
But if he does end up having a breakout year, the Leafs may decide to keep him. I really hope he has a good year for the Leafs this year. It will be interesting to see how recently acquired defencemen Roman Polak fits in as well.