It was reported by TSN’s Insider Darren Dreger earlier today that the Toronto Maple Leafs may have be looking to deal defenseman Cody Franson.
Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis has painted himself into a salary cap corner, and with Franson and Nazem Kadri yet to be signed, he may be unable to afford both.
If Franson is on the market, would he be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens?
There is a lot to like about Cody Franson. He scored 29 points in 45 games with the Leafs this past season, ranking him sixth among all NHL defenders in points. He is big at 6’5, 213 pounds, physical, his 124 hits this past season were ninth most among defensemen, and young, at just 25 years of age.
There are also a few concerns with bringing in a player like Franson. The Canadiens blueline is already slightly crowded, but with Alexei Emelin injured for the beginning of the season, and young players like Jarred Tinordi being able to benefit from more time with the Hamilton Bulldogs, there would be room for Franson. It may result in veterans Francis Bouillon, and David Drewiske being sent packing, or in the pressbox for extended periods, but it would be a major upgrade to the team.
Franson of course, has been unable to come to terms on a new contract with the Leafs, meaning his asking price could be quite high. The Canadiens currently have cap space to satisfy his demands, but after neglecting to give P.K. Subban even 3 milllion a year ago, how would it look if they handed Franson 4 million? If that is what Franson is seeking.
The biggest hurdle is obviously negotiating a deal to bring Franson to Montreal to begin with. The Leafs received him, along with Matt Lombardi for the underwhelming duo of Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney just two years ago, but Franson’s stock has climbed drastically in the meantime. If the Leafs are even willing to send him to a division rival, Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin would have to part with one his prized prospects, and perhaps a draft pick as well, if he wants to make Franson a member of the organization.
After consecutive successful drafts, Montreal currently holds plenty of attractive assets, any of whom could get a deal done, but if Nonis is going to send Franson to Montreal, and keeping in mind he is looking to save cap space, he will be looking for an excellent prospect in return.
It would be a huge price to pay, but Franson bring a unique blend of youth, scoring, and physical play. He plays in all situations, and could be the perfect right handed defender on the second pairing behind Subban for many years to come.