Toronto Maple Leafs: What's Going to Happen with Cody Franson?
Assuming a salary cap of $70.2 million for next season, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have approximately one Scott Gomez's worth of cap space (a shade over $7.3 million) going in.
The Leafs have two somewhat important players left to sign in goalie Ben Scrivens and defenseman Cody Franson, both of whom are restricted free agents.
Cap space won't be an issue barring any major trades.
The Scrivens situation isn't overly complicated. In the likely event that Leafs GM Brian Burke is unable or unwilling to bring in another goalie, Ben will probably be re-signed to a two-year deal worth around $1.5 million per.
The Franson situation is a little more interesting.
You'd think Cody Franson would be a valuable member of the team, but after getting benched for a large chunk of the 2011-12 season, we aren't sure how he and the Leafs are feeling about each other right now.
He'll always bleed blue and white, but he might not want to play for a team that can't or won't give him the playing time he thinks he deserves.
Fellow defensemen Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Carl Gunnarsson and John-Michael Liles are pretty much guaranteed to suit up for every game unless they get injured.
That leaves two spots for three people: Franson, Mike Komisarek and Korbinian Holzer.
You know he won't be happy with that set-up.
Then there's the matter of money.
What do you think will happen to Cody Franson?
Franson made $800,000 last year and is up for a raise, but how much would be appropriate for a guy who could easily spend most of the year on the bottom pairing?
He's worth about $2.5 million a year, but is Toronto willing to pay him that much? A team like the Detroit Red Wings could extend an offer sheet to him for, say, $3.5 million per. Toronto would be put in a tough situation.
Do they overpay him and hope he puts together a magical season (forcing the coaches to give him more playing time), or do they let a very promising young defenseman go because there might not be room for him in the top two defensive pairings?
Of course, there's always the option to trade his rights.
It would be a step backward for the Leafs to trade Franson away, but it may be necessary to let him play for a different team if he thinks the pastures are greener elsewhere.
After all, a disgruntled employee is an unproductive employee.
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