The Toronto Maple Leafs and defenseman Cody Franson have finally come to terms on a new contract. Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted out the news this morning:
Confirming Cody Franson has agreed to a 1 yr, $2 mil dollar deal with the Leafs. Took far less, but got the 1 yr term he fought for.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 26, 2013
The deal is a compromise for sure for both sides, but it was really all the Leafs could do after backing themselves up against the salary cap. Franson was sixth in defensemen scoring in the entire league last year and probably could’ve fetched close to $4-million on the open market. He takes significantly less than that, but he will no doubt be in line for a big raise this summer, although he will remain a restricted free agent.
As an RFA, Franson’s options were limited. He could either continue to sit out and wait for an offer sheet to come along from another team, or sign with a team in Europe. To Franson’s credit, he kept a positive attitude whenever he appeared in the media, and eventually decided to take what he could get from the Leafs. He clearly wants to remain a Leaf, and the Leafs will no doubt be very relieved this morning to have a player of his talent level back at training camp.
Franson will jump right into the Leafs’ top-four defense, probably alongside Jake Gardiner on the second pairing. Franson is also the only Leafs’ d-man who shoots right, so he gives them an important asset on the power play they didn’t otherwise have. If the Leafs send John-Michael Liles and Korbinian Holzer to the Marlies, and keep T.J. Brennan and Trevor Smith with the big club, they can get under the salary cap.