The crop of unrestricted free agents set to hit the open market on July 1 isn’t a star-studded bunch, but regardless Cody Franson should be one of the hottest commodities available.
A number of teams have already contacted the 6-foot-5, right-handed defenceman, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames, according to Dhiren Mahiban of Pro Hockey Talk. The San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars have also showed interest in Franson.
“Just tire-kicking. General stuff,” Franson’s agent Gerry Johannson said. “We already know who the teams are that would need someone like Cody anyway. The conversations have been pretty light.”
Franson split the 2014-15 season between the Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators where he put up a career high 36 points in 78 games. The 27-year-old had been with Toronto since 2011 and was traded to Nashville along with Mike Santorelli in February for a first-round pick, prospect Brendan Leipsic, and veteran Olli Jokinen. After being dealt, Franson admitted he’d be open to returning to the Leafs.
The Flames have one of the best young bluelines in the NHL especially when you consider the recent acquisition of Dougie Hamilton.
Jim Nill has been looking to improve his defense corps since taking over as GM of the Stars two years ago, while the Penguins will need to re-tool their defence since Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff are unrestricted free agents and might not return.
The San Jose Sharks recently pursued Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks at the 2015 NHL Draft, but a deal never came to fruition. Like Bieksa, Franson is a right-handed blueliner that can play top-four minutes and be effective with the man advantage.