According to Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal, the Oilers are one of the final two teams in on defenceman Cody Franson. Apparently, it’s between Edmonton and the Chicago Blackhawks for the big, puck moving, right-handed defenceman.
So in this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday Question is about the man of the hour — Cody Franson. Would you sign him to play for the Oilers? How much would you be willing to give? And, of course, where would he play and who would he bump off the roster?
Franson is an interesting case. Back in 2015, he was one of the biggest names hitting the free agent market and was expected to earn a lucrative contract after a few solid years in Toronto. But while guys like Andrej Sekera, Mike Green, and Paul Martin were handed big, multi-year deals right off the hop, Franson didn’t sign until September. He was given a two-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres worth only $3.325 million annually.
His time in Buffalo was forgettable. A lot of that has to do with a combination of the team being a dumpster fire and Franson struggling with injury. In 127 games with the Sabres, Franson scored seven goals and 36 points, averaging 17:43 minutes of ice time per game. His offence saw a dramatic decrease from his productive days in Toronto largely because he saw virtually zero time on the power play. Despite the underwhelming offensive production, Franson’s strong underlying numbers (+3.7 Corsi For relative to teammates) suggest he was a positive play driver.
Then you have the eye test. Franson is a hulking presence, standing at 6’5 225 pounds. He moves the puck well and has a bomb of a slap shot from the point, but his foot speed leaves a lot to be desired and he isn’t as physical as you’d hope such a big guy to be. Still, Franson has some attractive tools for a depth defender and has been an effective player in the past.
That brings us to 2017. It’s September, and again, Franson is without an NHL contract. Odds are at this point, considering he’s less than a month away from the season, he isn’t going to command much on his 2017-18 contract. He’ll likely come in on a one-year deal, similar to the one Kris Russell got late last summer, for a dollar figure between $2-$3 million.
As of right now, Edmonton is rolling into the season with Oscar Klefbom, Kris Russell, Darnell Nurse, and Yohann Auvitu on the left side, and Adam Larsson, Matt Benning, Eric Gryba, and Mark Fayne on the right side. Andrej Sekera will be out for the first few months of the season, and Auvitu and Fayne certainly aren’t locks to make the roster, while the other six likely are.
Adding Franson gives the Oilers some much-needed depth on the right side. The Oilers are one injury away from Matt Benning or Kris Russell playing top pairing minutes, and the former is still a question mark despite having a strong rookie season. Franson would likely compete with Eric Gryba for playing time on the third right pair, could be an effective option on the power play, and provides some insurance if there’s an injury or Benning struggles in his sophomore year.
What do you think, Nation? Thumbs up or thumbs down to Cody Franson? Is it worth it, or should the Oilers just roll with what they already have?