The Toronto Maple Leafs may have started the offseason’s cap management in a way that makes one want to pull their hair out, but appear to have come through in the eleventh hour, signing Cody Franson to a 1 Year, 2 Million dollar contract.
Odds are, if you agree with this site even occasionally, you’re doing cartwheels at your desk right now, but let’s break this down a bit anyway.
What Do They Get
A lot of people don’t give Franson the credit he should have earned at this point, and the recent Dregerisms and various firings of the PR cannon have probably not helped his reputation with the casual fan. But it’s worth noting that Franson is one of the league’s most productive offensive defencemen.
- Finished 8th in points among defencemen last year, despite being scratched for three games, and playing two minutes less per game than everybody in the Top 40 (other than Brent Burns, who actually played Right Wing).
- Furthermore, was third in even strength points, and the second most productive powerplay point man.
- He did all of the above with a career low 2.6 shooting percentage, combined with only about half of his shot attempts even hitting the next. This seeems bad, but on a team that was as lucky with their shots as the Leafs last year, having someone with a probable rise is a good thing.
- Other than Jake Gardiner, the Leafs had more control of shots on net with Franson on the ice than any other defenenceman.
- Ended more shifts in the offensive zone (49%) than he started (45.9%).
- Finished third on the Leafs in hits, took just four minor penalties, and had a high amount of "puck interactions" (giveaways+takeaways) that saw him lead the team in takeaways.
- Lead all Leafs defencemen in playoff points with six, and was 11th in the league despite not escaping the first round.
- And the craziest stat of all. Since joining the league, he is second among regular defencemen in even strength point production, only behind Kris Letang.
In short, the Leafs have one of the most efficient point defensive point producers in the league, at just 26 years old, back in the fold for another year. As well, he’s the team’s top Right Handed defenceman, which matters when Randy Carlyle stresses the need to match shot handedness with position.
- I’m not even going to bother making a list of comparables to Cody Franson’s $2 million salary, because you’ll be hard pressed to find anybody his age, making that little, that’s close to as valuable as a player. You should know at this point that this wasn’t a negotiation relevant to his talent level.
- A one year deal is a gift and a curse. On one hand, it keeps his dollar figure low, and makes it so the Leafs retain his rights next season instead of him walking as a free agent. On the other hand, It gives him arbitration rights in a year where the Leafs need to sign Phil Kessel, Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McClement, Mason Raymond, Joe Colborne, Dion Phaneuf, Mark Fraser, Jake Gardiner, Paul Ranger, and James Reimer. Even if he doesn’t opt for arbitration, a repeat of last year’s play will lead to a big contract expectation.
- If you need any proof of the difference leverage makes: Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson combine for a cap hit of 9.45 million, attached to 5 and 7 year deals. Nazem Kadri (RFA), Paul Ranger (NHL comeback, preferred Toronto), Mason Raymond (PTO) and Cody Franson (RFA) combine for a total cap hit of 6.9 million, with Kadri’s two year deal being the only multi year given.
- On a similar point to the above, Cody Franson makes half of what Tyler Bozak does this year, despite outscoring him while playing 100 less minutes, on defence instead of with van Riemsdyk and Kessel on the first line. Crazy.
- If Capgeek is right, and it usually is, the Leafs are now $1,004,187 over the Salary Cap. This is with 14 forwards and 8 defencemen. Sending down Smith and Holzer brings them to 13/7 and gives about $275,000 in cap space. With David Clarkson’s suspension. a defenceman will might have to go up for a few games, but its doable (assuming Orr and McLaren are back in time. If not, then there’s still more shuffling to do).
Cody Franson is a lot better than he’s given credit for, and his paycheque this year certainly won’t reflect that. After some questionable signings in July, the Leafs appear to have successfully thrown the Hail Mary and have a full-ish roster that can play opening night under the salary cap. Please buy Winter Classic merchandise so the Salary Cap can go up next year.