Cody Franson signs with Buffalo; How Does That Make You Feel?

Finally, one of the best free agent defencemen available this offseason has found a home. A horrible, horrible home. But a home nonetheless.

The Buffalo Sabres have officially signed former Leafs defenceman Cody Franson to a two-year contract that carries an annual cap hit of $3.325M. Franson spent the past four seasons in Toronto before being dealt to the Nashville Predators, the team that Franson broke into the NHL with, at the trade deadline with Matthew Lombardi.

In return, Toronto received prospect Brendan Leipsic, Olli Jokinen (who was flipped to the St. Louis Blues), and a 2015 first round pick (which was flipped a couple times for more picks).

Franson’s arrival in Buffalo is really interesting for a couple reasons, but mostly because of the cash (or lackthereof). For a defenceman of Franson’s ilk – not the fleetest of foot, but a 6’5, right-handed shot with a healthy amount of offensive skill – $3.3M per year is a very reasonable price tag.

Should Franson be getting paid more? Well, the Leafs certainly thought at some point in the not-too-distant past. Back in January, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Toronto offered the then 27-year old a multi-year contract extension worth $4.6M per season. Apparently that wasn’t enough, and Franson chose to try his luck in free agency. He thought he could make more than that. I thought he could make more than that.

Oops.

So, for significantly less money than expected, Franson is now in Buffalo, where he’ll certainly improve a defensive group on a team that could surprise a few people. The Sabres have a bunch of nice, young pieces and are expected to start turning their fortunes around in the near future. Adding Franson only helps them speed up the rebuilding process, not that winning in Buffalo is the same as winning in general, but I digress.

Perhaps most importantly, an improved Sabres team could make the Leafs the worst team in the Flortheast. Last season, Buffalo finished dead last in the division (and Eastern Conference) with an ugly 23-51-8 record and 54 points. If all goes well, they might be able to overtake Toronto and become the second worst team in the East. That would be excellent for the Leafs’ 2016 first round pick.

How does Franson in Buffalo make you feel? Will watching him regularly suit up against the Leafs make you sad? Should Toronto have done more to keep him around for a few more seasons? Let us know in the comments below…

  • Gary Empey

    While the Sabres have made some nice moves this year on paper unfortunately the game is played on ice.

    Franson is a very over-rated player. That goes for the rest of this years Sabres as well.

    Quoting you “not the fleetest of foot” says it all. How about “dead slow”? He does have a great shot, If he can manage to get up to the point before the puck is coming back the other way. Then he has to hope the biscuit is not in the basket before he can get back up his own end to defend. While the game is getting faster Buffalo will be getting slower.

    Wide right continues to haunt Buffalo.

    Bylsma’s Bling will be no match for Babcock’s Banditos.

  • ThatMapleLeafsFan

    angry when you realize the leafs paid stephane robidas 3 million over 3 years. that’s $300,000 less and 1 year extra the leafs got for a finished geezer when they could have had franson for essentially the same price/term.

  • Gary Empey

    they said franson wasn’t in their rebuilding plans with the youths but he signed for 2 years for 300,000 more than robidas who is useless on the ice and a waste of cap space!! winnik got 2 years wtf!! how does that make sense?! franson was good for guys like rielly/gardiner ugh. I hate this and once again, a good talent is going to a divisional rival. can’t wait for all of the goals he’ll score on us this year.

  • acg5151

    Phaneuf and Franson looked very good together as the first pairing last season before the management decided to fire Carlyle and go for the tank. I don’t understand why the Leafs hated Franson so much. Perhaps they think Gardiner and Rilley need more minutes and are ready to step up. I hope they’re right.

  • CMpuck

    I like Franson but it’s probably for the best.

    Management would look bad bringing him back in when there’s probably a 50-50 chance he’s going to regress significantly next year. He can hit and put up good numbers but eventually his speed is going to push him down the lineup in Buffalo.

    • Gary Empey

      franson is still better than anyone on the leafs not named rielly and gardiner. if he regressed, he’d still be better than polak/robidas/brennan for sure and offensively better than hunwick/marincin…. he’s still faster and more talented than half of our defence and we could have had him for a decent price but we’re tanking so it makes sense.

  • CMpuck

    It makes me feel that, through no fault of their own, the Leafs finally were the “fleecers” in a deal based on perception of value, instead of the “fleecees”. Usually “the corpse of [insert name of overvalued player here]” is coming back our way in a trade. Of course, Franson’s agent gets a huuuuge glove tap in making the Leafs look smart.

    I’m glad Franson’s playing somewhere but I wish the Leafs could have signed him back on a one year one million deal. Then we’d look really smart.