We’re a month into free agency yet Cody Franson remains unsigned.
The 27-year-old is coming off three consecutive one-year contracts – in fact, his next contract will be his fifth since his entry-level deal – and he put up a career high 36 points in 78 games split between the Maple Leafs and Predators in 2014-15 on a $3.3-million salary cap.
With Michael Del Zotto earning $3.875-million and Justin Schultz getting $3.9-million, one would think Franson could fetch an annual salary somewhere in the $4-million range, but perhaps his asking price or desired term is the reason he is still a free agent.
It’s not a matter of if a team will sign him, but which team, when and for how much.
With that in mind, here are five teams that are potential fits for Franson.
The Bruins make total sense and Franson recently confirmed they are one of the teams he has been in contact with. Don Sweeney has completely retooled the Bruins since being named GM and there is a void to be filled on the back end. The 6-foot-5, right-handed blueliner could essentially take over the role left vacant by Dougie Hamilton who was dealt to the Calgary Flames in June.
Franson even reached out to former junior teammate Milan Lucic to ask him about Boston. The two played three seasons together for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL and Lucic spent eight years with the Bruins before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in June.
“I asked him a few questions about it,” Franson admitted. “With the trade they made with Hamilton and some of the other stuff they’ve done, they’re one of the teams that we’re in talks with. Boston would be an interesting spot. It's obviously an awesome city, and they've got a great organization and all those things that come with it.”
Jim Nill has done a lot to improve the Stars this summer – adding Patrick Sharp, Antti Niemi and replacing Trevor Daley with Johnny Oduya – but there’s still room for improvement on the blueline. The Stars don’t have too much cap space to work with heading into the 2015-16 season, but with some creative accounting they can make it work. And signing Franson to a multi-year deal wouldn’t be a problem going forward since the Stars have seven pending UFAs. A top four of Alex Goligoski, John Klingberg, Oduya and Franson wouldn’t look too bad compared to last year.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
With Slava Voynov’s future with the team still up in the air, adding a defenceman should remain a priority for Dean Lombardi. The Kings defencemen didn’t generate too much offence last season and Franson would provide more of a balance while taking some pressure off the top pair of Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. It would also give Franson a chance to reunite with his old pal Lucic as the Kings aim to get back into the playoffs.
The Coyotes are in rebuild mode and have plenty of cap space to burn if they so desire. Craig Morgan of FOX Sports recently wrote that the Coyotes are still looking to add a right-handed blueliner to play alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Making a run at Franson is a way of doing that while avoiding giving up assets in a trade. Potentially playing beside OEL could bring Franson’s game to a new level.
Similar to the Coyotes, the Sabres are a team Franson could flourish with. Franson would immediately help a Sabres power play that ranked dead last in the NHL. He’s an underrated puck mover and displays patience in the offensive zone. Those qualities could pay major dividends with so many young, talented forwards the Sabres have to work with.