Cody Franson trade: Good or Bad?

Steve Dangle
July 26 2013 01:40PM

So apparently Cody Franson might get traded. Here's a picture of him looking for a cab to the airport or something.

People are accusing me of hating everything the Leafs do just because I’m a whiner. I mean, I’ve spent over half a decade blogging about the Toronto Maple Leafs, two of which were spent actually working for the team, and I've been constantly dumped on for defending the likes of Phaneuf, Kessel, etc. But hey, people disagree with me, so let’s all call Steve a meanie bo beanie because I disagree with his points and critical thinking.

How about this…

Here is how I think trading Franson could be a good idea, and how trading Franson could be a bad idea.

Good Idea

Cody Franson is a quality young defenceman. He’s a right-handed shot, puts up crazy points, and can play special teams. Hell, he can even lay a guy out every now and then. Remember this sort of accidental but still awesome hit on Crosby?

 

Don’t focus on the Leafs losing Franson, though. Instead, focus on what other teams will do to trade him.

One thing the NHL isn’t short of is silly teams perfectly willing to do silly things. Every GM in the league has to have the Flyers, Flames and Oilers on speed dial at this point. Given that, and given the fact that there are many teams out there dying for a defenceman like Cody Franson, somebody out there is going to pay through the nose for this guy.

Sure, Franson doesn’t have a contract right now. The fact still remains that he is a tremendously valuable commodity. What would a GM like Craig MacTavish, who has a new job, young team, restless fanbase, and weak defence core offer for Cody Franson. A 1st rounder? Two picks? Picks, prospects, and a retweet from Justin Bieber? The possibilities are endless!

Right now, there have to be multiple team incapable of passing up an opportunity like this. How do you get a defenceman as good and as young as Franson? You either draft him, sign him to an offer sheet (which pretty much never happens), or wait for a team in a cap crunch situation to trade him. Opportunity knocks, gentlemen.

Losing Franson sucks for the Leafs, but the return for him could be sizeable. And here’s a thought: The Leafs might have already found a replacement. If Paul Ranger is all he’s being pumped up to be, having him on a one-year $1 million contract could be an absolute steal. Besides, it’s not guaranteed that Franson will continue to produce at the click he did in 2012-13, anyway. Sell high!

Looking at it that way, losing Cody Franson might not be a huge deal.

Bad Idea

So let me get this straight: The Leafs made a trade with Nashville. They took on Matthew Lombardi’s brutal contract in order to bring in Cody Franson. Ron Wilson benches Franson to start the season, and for big chunks throughout, despite decent production. Franson has a very strong albeit shortened season with the Leafs in 2012-13, and is 8th among NHL defenceman in scoring, 1st on the Leafs… and he’s gone?

Then there’s this

And this

And this

And this

Overall Thought

You know what…screw it. I’m pro-trade. That’s right. I don’t mind if the Leafs trade Cody Franson. If they get nothing for him, well, then I’ll obviously start to hate the move. I’m not crazy about it right now, but I don’t hate it either. As good as Franson is, I'm not willing to die on this hill.

In fact – what move?!?! Nothing has even happened yet! Maybe nothing will happen at all!

How soon do these guys hit the ice again?

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Steve Dangle has a YouTube channel with over 3 million views and is the co-host of the Steve Dangle Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Steve has also worked for CBC, the NHL Network, Leafs TV, Nike, the KHL, and most of all, the Toronto Zoo. stevedangle.com
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#1 Thomas
July 26 2013, 07:34PM
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The picture was taken during their road trip to South Florida. I believe it was take. At the outlet malls Sawgrass. It's across the road from the Arena now called BB&T

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#2 Brad Mitchell
July 26 2013, 07:28PM
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I understand what Jeff is trying to say, but as I tweeted to him directly, it's simply not correct to say they could now offer Cody 2.5 more if they had chosen Grabo over Bozak and bought out Liles.

Unless you think they are currently offering Cody zero.

We'd all rather have Grabo and Franson over Bozak and Liles.

That's a no brainer. But that isn't what's happening here.

Regardless of what we think about their player evaluation, they are trying to keep Bozak + Franson + Liles for approximately the same total money as just Grabo + Franson.

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#3 MaxPower417
July 26 2013, 07:41PM
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@Brad Mitchell

Uhh something tells me you missed Jeffs point.

They are now paying Bozak 4.2 and Liles 3.875 for a total of 8.075.

If they hadn't have burned the compliance buyout on the teams best player they could have just kept Grabo at 5.5 and used the compliance buyout on Liles.

The difference being an extra 2.575 million in cap space to play with. Now Jeffler did forget to replace Liles spot on the roster as a 7th D-man with someone. However, the Leafs already have TJ Brennan signed at 675k and he should fit that role fine.

So even factoring his salary the Leafs would have an additional 1.9 million to help sign Kadri, Franson and Fraser.

Personally, I think they might be able to get a team to bite on a Liles trade if they retain 1 million in salary. Remember, Liles was recovering from a concussion last season so he is a decent bounceback candidate at 2.875 mil for a team in need a PMD.

However! Now, you can take this same outlined scenario of Grabo, Franson, Bozak, Liles and look at it, as the team spending 5.2 mil in salary to keep Bozak around over Grabo.

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#4 Punchy
July 26 2013, 08:11PM
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At the end of the day the Leafs overachieved last year and nobody on the squad is untouchable. That said Franson brings a lot to the table. He's a big guy who skates well. He's got a lethal shot. His play in his own end has improved greatly and he has some edge to his game. I feel like there was chemistry between him and Gardiner. Franson needs to be more consistent but you can say that about most young defencemen in the NHL. And he can be had for 3ish million. If he is to be traded it better be for a sizeable return or there better be one hell of a plan b, it can't be just a salary dump.

Not sure why this blog's writers are being called out as Leaf haters. Couldn't be further from the truth. Off the top of my head I can remember reading articles sticking up for Kessel, Phaneuf, Reimer, Ranger and I'm sure there's more that I'm leaving out. The Bozak and Clarkson contracts are bad I'm sorry. And I love Clarkson as a player. The guy is all heart and he's exactly what this team needs but even Nonis admitted recently on sports radio that they really wanted him for five but they felt he would have walked unless they gave him seven. It's a very risky contract and you shouldn't be called a Leaf basher for saying that. Go Leafs Go!

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#5 MaxPower417
July 26 2013, 08:15PM
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@Punchy

Personally I'd like to lock him to a 5 year 20 million dollar deal.

4 mil might be an overpayment for next year but it could be bargain by the time it's all said and done.

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#6 Brad Mitchell
July 26 2013, 08:19PM
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@MaxPower417

TJ Brennan being under contract is completely irrelevant.

What is relevant is that they currently have 3 roster spots to fill and 6 mil of cap space to fill them.

Jeff says: Buyout Liles instead, keep Grabo, and let Bozak walk, then offer Franson 2.5 mil "more" to replace Liles.

Makes perfect sense, except for the "more" part...

Let's say they are only offering Franson 1.5 right now.

Jeff says offer him 2.5 more. Really?! So under his scenario, we still have Grabo at 5.5 + Franson now at 4.

Hmmm. So that's 9.5 total compared to just 8 for Bozak + Liles.

Keep in mind, there are still 3 roster spots to fill, and you've now lost 1.5 mil in cap space. So you're down to 4.5 million in space remaining to fill 3 spots - one of them Kadri who could eat it all himself.

The flaw in the logic is obvious if you ask yourself a couple simple questions... Which buyout saves them more money - Grabo or Liles? And which centre would have had a larger cap hit... Grabo or Bozak? So HOW in the world could they magically have another 2.5 mil to offer Franson?

Bottom Line: they are trying to make the cap hit for Bozak + Liles + Franson = Grabo + Franson, thereby eating up an extra roster spot that they had to fill.

Having said all that, I wish they had kept Grabo too. It was a moronic decision to buy him out.

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#7 MaxPower417
July 26 2013, 08:26PM
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@Brad Mitchell

I think he simply meant 2.5 million to spend on resigning, not to literally tack it on to their last offer.

Also, I think the Leafs could theoretically run with a 22 man roster next year. They have the Marlies just in town and a number of waiver exempt players for call ups.

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#8 DP
July 26 2013, 08:36PM
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The Ranger signing and the cap situation isn't as bad as many think.

What it may tell us is that negoiations with Fraser aren't close and Ranger at slightly less than $1 million is a better value. Ranger may also be a backup plan in case the arbitration award is so great that the Leafs need to walk away from Fraser.

With his great plus/minus stats, Fraser may win a heavy raise in arbitration. Do you want to pay Fraser $1.5 million to $2 million? I think we find out on Tuesday

The cap situation isn't as bad as many point out because Capgeek.com has some players that are probably AHL bound.

Trevor Smith and Holzer probably won't make the Leafs and that's $1.34 million in cap space. I think players under $900,000 playing in the AHL don't count against the cap.

So with Ranger the Leafs still have about $7.5 million for Fraser, Kadri and Franson.

7.5? That is possible. $3.25 million for Franson, which is more than Gunarrson got. $2.9 million for Kadri in slightly richer bridge deal than Subban and $1.25 million for Fraser.

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#9 Brad Mitchell
July 26 2013, 08:49PM
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MaxPower417 wrote:

I think he simply meant 2.5 million to spend on resigning, not to literally tack it on to their last offer.

Also, I think the Leafs could theoretically run with a 22 man roster next year. They have the Marlies just in town and a number of waiver exempt players for call ups.

Fair enough, if that's what he meant. But it's far from what he actually wrote...

"If the Leafs went with Grabovski over Bozak and bought out Liles instead, they'd have 2.5M more to offer Cody Franson."

Do the math. Buyout Liles (+3.8) Keep Grabo (-5.5) Say Bye Bozak (+4.2) Keep Franson (???)

i.e. Best case scenario, Franson accepts 2.5 (total, not "more") and it's a wash, cap-wise.

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#10 Punchy
July 27 2013, 09:19AM
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MaxPower417 wrote:

Personally I'd like to lock him to a 5 year 20 million dollar deal.

4 mil might be an overpayment for next year but it could be bargain by the time it's all said and done.

A contract like that could pay off but it's a bit too risky imo. I'd be more comfortable with a bridge contract similar to what Subban got. 2 years at 2.5 - 3 mil sounds about right. He's an RFA and doesn't have the leverage to receive a long term deal. Nonis can and should play hardball here.

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#11 MaxPower417
July 27 2013, 10:24AM
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@Punchy

The problem is Kadri is going to get a bridge contract. If they both develop as we hope, there is no way we can afford to keep both of them in 2 years without sacrificing in other areas.

Personally, I think you have to take a risk with one of them if you want any hope if having both of them in the future; and with Kadri coming off a PPG season, Franson is probably the safer risk.

Don't get me wrong. As Leafs I would try for a 5 year 18 mil contract (3.6) first, then try and stick hard at 19 mil (3.8), but I wouldn't be too upset if the final number was at 20.

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#12 MaxPower417
July 27 2013, 10:31AM
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@Brad Mitchell

But Grabo and Franson >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> than Bozak and Liles.

It won't be a wash. Franson will cost more than 2.5 mil. But you end up with far superior players.

I honestly, don't think the way you are taking it, is what Jeff meant by his tweet. I think he got the 2.5 mil the way I did it.

Using the compliance buyout on Liles, letting Bozak walk and keeping Grabo gives you 2.5 million (actually 2.575) more to spend on these negotiations.

6.17 million for the three players doesn't look like enough at all. But if they had 8.75, well then now we are in business.

Who knows, maybe he'll pop in here and settle this once and for all, but I would be willing to bet good money that this is what he meant.

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#13 MaxPower417
July 27 2013, 10:44AM
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@DP

The Leafs can't walk away from an arbitration award unless it's over 3.5 million.

If he gets awarded 2 mil, they are stuck with him, unless they can unload him in a trade.

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#14 Brad Mitchell
July 27 2013, 12:22PM
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"Using the compliance buyout on Liles, letting Bozak walk and keeping Grabo gives you 2.5 million (actually 2.575) more to spend on these negotiations. "

Once again, this is completely false. Do the math.

In order to make the Cap hit a wash under both scenarios, they could offer Franson 2.5 TOTAL under yours and Jeff's scenario. Not 2.5 "more".

You guys might as well be saying, "yeah but if we trade Phaneuf for a draft pick right now, we could then offer Cody 6.5 MORE!"

Um, NO, because you still have to replace Phaneuf's roster spot with someone.

Just like keeping Grabo and getting rid of Liles + Bozak (2 roster spots to 1) does not really create 2.5 "more" because you have also LOST A ROSTER SPOT in that trade off. So Franson replaces the spot at 2.5 total, and you have a wash cap-wise. But you never created 2.5 "more" to work with.

And like I said earlier, anyone with working eyes would rather have Grabo and Franson. That isn't the issue.

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#15 MaxPower417
July 27 2013, 03:11PM
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@Brad Mitchell

I accounted for that in earlier posts. You're right it's actually 1.9 million more.

TJ Brennan is already signed as a 7th Defenceman which would be the role that Liles would play and Brennan would get sent down otherwise.

So it's 1.9 million more to spend on the negotiations.

And no, it's not 1.9 million total, it's the 6.17 mil they have in cap space right now + the 1.9 mil for a total of over 8 million.

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#16 Punchy
July 27 2013, 03:47PM
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MaxPower417 wrote:

The problem is Kadri is going to get a bridge contract. If they both develop as we hope, there is no way we can afford to keep both of them in 2 years without sacrificing in other areas.

Personally, I think you have to take a risk with one of them if you want any hope if having both of them in the future; and with Kadri coming off a PPG season, Franson is probably the safer risk.

Don't get me wrong. As Leafs I would try for a 5 year 18 mil contract (3.6) first, then try and stick hard at 19 mil (3.8), but I wouldn't be too upset if the final number was at 20.

I wouldn't be disappointed if they signed Franson to a cheap long term deal but I still think they should go with bridge contracts and cross that salary "bridge" when they come to it (I'll be appearing at Yuk Yuk's soon I'm just waiting for their Entertainment Booker to return my calls). And I'll tell you why.

- Salary cap is going to be much higher in two years. TV contracts are up soon and that'll push it up and as well revenues are already higher than previously projected.

- We have Armstrong, Tucker, Scrivens and Frattin coming off the books after this season.

- I suspect that in two years we'll either have Reimer or Bernier as a number one and the other will no longer be on the squad. In his place will be a cheaper backup.

Point is that I'm not too worried about the cap in the future.

Other reasons I'd be leery of signing Franson long term...

- He had an unsustainably high shooting % last year. EDIT: Ok this not true I read the stat wrong this is the team Sh % while he was on the ice. His individual shooting % is actually really low. Sorry Max!

- Quality of Competition wasn't very good.

- Didn't play very much on the penalty kill.

- Still makes too many gaffes in the defensive zone. He scored twice in game 7 but that terrible no look pass that led to the Bruins 1st goal will forever be ingrained in my brain.

- We have elite offensive dmen prospects in Gardiner and Rielly on the left side. Shutdown right side defencemen might be a better fit for this team. Lots was made of Granberg's performance in the recent prospects camp. Leafs brass is practically salivating over this guy because they think that he can fill that need in the future.

Hey but like I said in an earlier post he does bring a lot to the table. The potential is there for him to develop into a top defenceman. Not totally against your idea but just trying to explain my line of thinking.

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#17 MaxPower417
July 27 2013, 04:13PM
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@Punchy

Wouldn't a rising cap in the near future, mean that salaries are also going to rise accordingly and thus be an argument for getting him locked up to a long term deal now?

I hear you about the QoC and on ice shooting %. This would definitely be a deal based on equal parts performance and potential.

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#18 Punchy
July 27 2013, 04:55PM
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MaxPower417 wrote:

Wouldn't a rising cap in the near future, mean that salaries are also going to rise accordingly and thus be an argument for getting him locked up to a long term deal now?

I hear you about the QoC and on ice shooting %. This would definitely be a deal based on equal parts performance and potential.

Good point. I guess it would come down to how much cap space we should have compared to the amount of salary inflation that would occur. I have no idea how to project that!

Also check my edit. I got the wrong shooting percentage stat. His real one is actually really low and should probably rise in the future. Not too shabby.

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#19 MaxPower417
July 28 2013, 03:06PM
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@Punchy

Actually to lend support to your original claim, according to behindthenet, his on-ice shooting percentage was 13.42% which is really high. So he actually is in store for some serious regression that front.

To make matters worse, Eric T. wrote an article for broadstreethockey that fairly definitely proved that unlike forwards, defenceman have almost no impact on on-ice shooting percentage so we should expect that to regress all the way to the mean. Unless that is, he becomes part of a regular 5-man unit that includes Kadri and Lupul type players, in which case it will still regress quite a bit, but not all the way.

Here's a link to that article http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2013/6/16/4430864/shooting-percentage-regression-goals

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#20 MaxPower417
July 30 2013, 01:16PM
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This may be the player, along with a foward or prospect, to make that much needed deal for a topline center. Our two centers wont get it done.

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#21 Punchy
July 30 2013, 01:18PM
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Although I am a Canadiens fan, I also like the Leafs and agree with most posters here we are lacking substantially at the Center position.

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#22 Brad Mitchell
July 30 2013, 01:20PM
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I really hope he stays, he is really gorgeous

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#23 Jeff Stockton
July 30 2013, 02:19PM
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Blogging for over HALF A DECADE??? How have you lasted so long??? Why that's, almost 6 FULL YEARS!!! What a trooper!

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