September 19 2013 08:52AM
With the current cap situation we're in I personally think a one-year would suit the team the best. You know, they've got a little bit of a crunch on numbers and you know, I'm just trying to make it happen for both sides.
Until any deal is signed or Dave Nonis goes on record to talk numbers, I'm not going to get into the prices that the Leafs are offering. When negotiations are concerned, a lot of talk that is meant to stay private go public, and it leads to a lot of fans believing that opening offers are indicative of what a player expects. Remember when Nazem Kadri reportedly wanted a six-year deal for $6-million and then wound up taking less than half of that for one-third the contract length?
The above quote is from Cody Franson, via TSN's outdated video player that doesn't let you embed links. He was with Mark Masters yesterday after practicing with the Ryerson Rams at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. You may know that building better as Maple Leaf Gardens (if you have a chance to go to a Rams game, or scrimmage at the facility, I highly recommend it. It's an awesome place).
Anyway, I thought it was refreshing to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. Franson is resigned to a shorter-term contract. There's some speculation as to why Franson never filed for arbitration this summer and it's become accepted that it's because he didn't want to risk playing on another one-year deal. Frankly, he's a player that has paid his dues and deserves a bit of stability, so I don't hold it against him for holding out.
From the Maple Leafs perspective, I kind of have to wonder what the thinking is. Franson has two more years until he's unrestricted, so a one-year deal means that the Leafs get another summer of negotiating rights. If Franson turns out to be the real deal on defence, he's a player you can look at to give a bigger role to if, hypothetically, you don't get Dion Phaneuf signed by this summer. The salary cap is in a crunch year this season, but should increase to higher than 2012-2013 numbers this upcoming for the 2014-2015 season so there will be a little bit more money to throw around in regards to an extension.
If the Leafs go with 13 forwards and 7 defencemen, that means they'll have $2.9-million to work with if they demote John-Michael Liles (only $925K of his salary cap hit will come off of the Leafs' books), and $2.7-million if they demote Korbinian Holzer. It is theoretically plausible that the team gets something done without having to move anybody but that would involve Franson biting the bullet and playing for less than he's worth, with the team right up against the cap.
There's a good chance I see the one-year deal as preferable because I like Cody Franson so much and I'm paying closer attention to his interests than the Leafs'. I can see where they'd be unwilling to give Cody another year of arbitration rights, and locking him up could save money for the summer of 2014 where they need to open the chequebooks for Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, or Phaneuf and Kessel's replacements. Only 11 players are signed past this season (and two of them are Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren) so obtaining some semblance of stability is important.
But I just don't see where it's preferable to sign Franson to two years at this point rather than four or five, especially if he's willing to come aboard at a reduced cost because he wants the long-term deal. I'm sticking with the original plan here: sign him to a one-year deal at the highest you can while also leaving space to waive McLaren and sign Mason Raymond, and agree to an extension to be signed January 1st. Everybody's happy there.
It's not like Franson doesn't want to be a Leaf, it's that the Leafs completely mismanaged their cap this summer and now Franson has resigned himself to making the situation work this year. I'd give him something back for the service.