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Will Toronto be forced to trade Franson?

Jul 26, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT

Cody Franson Getty Images

On Friday, TSN’s Darren Dreger took time away from his summer vacation to suggest the Toronto Maple Leafs may be forced to deal defenseman Cody Franson.

Franson, 25, was one of the NHL’s better bargains last year. He led the Leafs in defenseman scoring (29 points) and tied for sixth-most in the league — only Keith Yandle, Andrei Markov, Ryan Suter, Kris Letang and Norris winner P.K. Subban scored more.

But Franson did it on a one-year, $1.2 million deal.

As such, he’s expected to get a significant raise — Dreger suggests Franson could net $4 million-plus annually — which could be problematic for Toronto.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis has spent aggressively this summer, shelling out $36.75 million to acquire David Clarkson and another $21 million to retain Tyler Bozak (also, nearly $10 million to keep Carl Gunnarson).

While he did get cap relief by buying out Mikhail Grabovski, Nonis doesn’t have much wiggle room for the immediate future.

Namely, the 2013-14 season.

At the time of writing, the Leafs have roughly $6 million in cap space with 20 players on the roster. The biggest x-factor is the new deal needed for Nazem Kadri, the restricted free agent forward that finished second on the team in scoring last season, with 44 points.

There’s also useful defenseman Mark Fraser, who played in 45 games last year and averaged close to 17 minutes a night. He played on a one-year, $600,000 deal last year, and will likely be in line for a small pay bump.

There’s also the question if Toronto can replace Franson internally.

Morgan Rielly, the fifth overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, could challenge for a roster spot. He’s too young to play for the AHL Marlies and probably won’t benefit from another year with WHL Moose Jaw, where he was nearly a point-a-game player last year.

Stuart Percy, the club’s first-round pick in 2011 (25th overall), might also push to be with the Leafs. He’s only had a brief taste of AHL experience, but looked solid with the Marlies last season, scoring three points in four games.

But all those decisions are in the future, and Nonis said he has plenty of time to make them.

“It’s July,” Nonis said on Sportsnet 590 on Thursday. “I’m not surprised that [Franson, Kadri and Fraser] are not signed, and we have a lot of time before we have to start worrying about it.”

  1. Woody Bass - Jul 26, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Get to work Yzerman!!

    • ctcork - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      We’d have to find a buyer for Malone (which I support) but it’s easier said than done

      • mathieug79 - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        actually its not finding a buyer that would be hard, its finding one that he would accept being traded to (NTC with 12 teams list), his contract isn’t so bad, He’s only owed 2.5M per season which is not so bad considering his cap hit is at 4.5M.

        If you look at Tampa’s cap situation they only have 2.3M, but Matthias Ohlund will be put on LTIR, which gives them another 3.6M and a total of 5.9M in cap space. If Yzerman would actually get Franson, he could definetly sign him for 3-3.5M$ with the tax lower in tampa (can’t confirm this, but read multiple article stating this)

  2. hines86for6 - Jul 26, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Another David Poile diamond in the rough.

  3. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 26, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    I’d love to see Holmgren get in on the discussions. We could certainly use a 25-yr old, 6’5″, right-handed, offensive-defenseman. Of course the Flyers are already over the cap and have about 8 defenders on one-way deals, but having no cap space hasn’t stopped Holmgren in the past. If they can manage to rid themselves of Mezsaros (4.0) and with Pronger’s LTIR exception they could probably swing it. It’s just a matter of the cost. Anyone have any educated guesses on an asking price? Franson is a talent but Nonis is also sort of up against the wall in terms of cap space (especially with Kessel and Kadri needing new deals). A 2nd and a solid prospect? Possibly a 1st straight up? I mean Kyle Quincey cost Detroit a 1st. It’s an obvious longshot but I’d love to see this kid in orange and black.

    • sunderlanding - Jul 26, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      They don’t have to sign Kessel this year, and next year when they do they have 2 mil comming off of the books in buyout money. They’ll be fine in that respect.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jul 26, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        No I know they don’t have to sign Kessel right now, but when they do re-sign him he’s probably gonna cost 7-8mil per year. So do they risk signing Franson at 4+ if it will in any way hinder their chances of keeping Kessel next summer. They can’t take the chance of letting the face of their franchise walk away without any compensation. And, in that regard, the longer they wait to work out a deal the more likely it is that Kessel will test free agency. Not saying he will, but they don’t want to wait til the 11th hour.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 26, 2013 at 10:33 PM

        That’s what I’m saying. They have 2 mil comming off the books next year, so, even if the cap doesn’t go up, they can give Kessel up to a 2 mil raise without hurting the cap situation. That’d pay him 7.5 a year. Any more than that would be stupid, and that might even be too much.

      • dueman - Jul 26, 2013 at 8:10 PM

        Both Franson and Kadri will be signed. Nonis has already said that there will be another move or two before the season starts, and considering that we still don’t have a third line left wing, I don’t think he was lying. We also have Liles still on the books and I guarantee that he will not be there come camp. There is also 2.5 million in buy out money coming out this year, and guaranteed the cap will be going up significantly next year as well. So don’t get your hopes up, as like I said, both will be signed. Not once has Nonis said anything to make anybody think any different. This is just media B.S.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jul 27, 2013 at 1:16 AM

        Without moving Liles they will not be able to afford Franson, Kadri, and Fraser. They have just around $6 mil in cap room, correct? Franson is looking for 4+. Say he gets 4.2. And Kadri would be a huge bargain at anything under 3. Let’s just say he gets a bridge deal at 2.8 for 2 years. And Fraser gets 850k. So conservatively that’s 7.85 mil in new contracts versus 6.1 in cap space. Then next summer they’ll have to give new deals to Kessel, Phaneuf, Gardiner, Bolland, Kulemin, McClement, and Reimer. So even with that extra two million and the potential rise in the cap ceiling, the Leafs will easily be at or above the limit. Moving Liles gives a little breathing room but it would be a pure salary dump. And there aren’t a lot of teams willing to take on 3.875 for 3 more years on a declining player. That’s what makes moving Franson a possibility. Not saying it’s close to a sure thing but it’s sure possible, especially if they get a nice return.

  4. sunderlanding - Jul 26, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    I hope they don’t trade him. I’d rather see Gunnarson go. Why did they sign Gunnarson if it meant they couldn’t afford to keep Franson? Here’s to hoping this is just rumours. #hashtagsarestupid

    • tdrusher225 - Jul 27, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      Gunnarson is solid in his own end and that’s a type of defenseman the Leafs aren’t overly stacked with.

  5. vstar1us - Jul 26, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Wild should try to pick him up!

    • dueman - Jul 26, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      Good luck with that.

  6. bruinpred - Jul 26, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    A Predator mistake. The organization had Blum rated higher than Franson; the Leafs would have taken Blum in the Lombardi salary dump. Oops.

  7. ruthlessandtoothless - Jul 26, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Leafs could still use help up the middle, the Flyers have plenty to offer in that area of the ice…. Hmmm

    They’d need to dump salary but still, hmmm.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 27, 2013 at 1:09 AM

      As much as I’d love another trade like Schenn for JVR, I don’t think two teams hunting for cap space will be dealing with each other.

  8. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 26, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    No wonder this team is the laughing stock of the NHL.

    If Franson goes, then the Leafs really are a lost cause. What a HUGE step backwards this move would be. Trade Liles, or buy him out. If that’s not enough money, do it with Phaneuf. Franson should be untouchable.

    • 19to77 - Jul 26, 2013 at 7:50 PM

      They’re out of compliance buyouts. Any more bought-out players will actually count against the cap now. In Liles’ case, that would mean a hit on the books for six years. They made a bad call extending him and now they’re probably in for the long haul whether they like it or not. Without a rebound season I can’t see him being especially tradeable.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 26, 2013 at 8:17 PM

        The old fashion buyout wouldn’t hurt that bad. The cap will be going back up again every season after this one. Phaneuf’s $6.5M contract will be over with there will be more money available right away.

        There are enough teams who need a Dman AND have cap space. The Leafs should be able to move someone. Liles, Gunnarsson seem the most moveable.

        I just wish Franson and Kadri could check their egos for a season or two. Why are they gouging the team now, when the cap goes down and there’s barely any cap space to work with. I wish they’d wake up and just sign some 2 year bridge contracts. THEN sign long term when the team has the money to do it.

      • withseidelinn - Jul 27, 2013 at 12:23 AM

        If they traded Liles they would practically be giving him away, probably for something like a 4th rounder considering his age, declining play and cap hit. Still a solid 2 way guy but not enough room on the Leafs and too expensive. Hope they move him because Franson is going to be sick.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 27, 2013 at 1:07 AM

        4th round pick? bag of pucks?

        I don’t care what the Leafs get for him, the reward is the extra 3+ Million in cap space to get Franson and Fraser signed.

      • 19to77 - Jul 27, 2013 at 1:18 AM

        Agreed. Just move his cap hit by any means and resign the people who deserve to be paid.

  9. smanmac - Jul 26, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    I’d like to hang onto Franson too, but only at the right price. Which brings me to the awesome signing of Paul Ranger! He WILL turn out to be one of the best bangs for the buck in the entire league next year. He’s a wicked puck mover, and skater, and I can’t wait to have him back in the league – especially in the Blue & White!

  10. buffalo65 - Jul 26, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    From what I understand Kessel doesn’t want to re sign anyways.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 26, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      Just got off the phone with him?

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