The end game for any NHL team that involves trading away assets is to bring some back in return, thus making their respective team better as a result.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are no different and have improved several aspects of their team by bringing in key role players to achieve the right balance. In doing so, they have inevitably surprised more than a few along the way rolling through the October and November months with winning records.
The rumor mill, however relentlessly inconsequential as it may seem at times, continues to buzz with Toronto players names usually in the mix.
Enter Cody Franson.
Rumors started spiraling after Darren Dreger tweeted about an alleged offer from an undisclosed team for the Leafs defenseman on Nov. 16, 2011. Apparently Brian Burke was offered a second-round pick and a player.
Dreger added, "Evidently, depth on D is highly valued in Toronto," which would suggest Brian Burke may value his D-man more than what he can get for him on the market.
What's more is that even after injuries began to plague this resilient Leafs team, they have still showed truly significant depth at all positions. Sure—there can always be improvements made, but when players start clicking and showing some real chemistry, it's probably in Burke's best interest to leave well enough alone.
The real conundrum then becomes, with all of this depth and expendable (yet attractive) talent, what does this Toronto team need and what then could they get for a player like Franson?
The Leafs can now enjoy the luxury of dealing from a position of power—no doubt foreign territory for them for most of Burke's tenure as general manager. With that in mind, let's look at six offers for Cody Franson that would potentially benefit both sides.
Despite all of the recent trade speculation orbiting around Jarome Iginla, there are other players the Calgary Flames could deal to shake up their current roster.
Besides—Jay Feaster says that Iginla is part of the solution not part of the problem. Even still, the whisper of rumors suggesting the possibiliy such a trade persist, but I'll go out on a limb and say it's not involving the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rene Bourque may be a more realistic target for the Leafs. The Flames were fishing with Bourque bait a few weeks ago and perhaps now is the time to act on some of those early impulses to restructure.
This Calgary team could use a guy like Franson to produce on the PP, while giving him the ability to chew up bigger minutes than he's seen in Toronto. He is seemingly even more valuable to them now in light of the injury to Anton Babchuck.
In Bourque, the Leafs would get a solid scoring winger adding to an already deep top nine.
Linus Omark isn't doing the Edmonton Oilers any good playing for Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL.
This prospect-rich Edmonton club could use an economical NHL ready defender who can step in and make an impact now.
For the Oilers, Frason would offer relief for an Edmonton defensive corps suffering from multiple injuries and improve their depth in this position.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, Omark is only a $875,000 cap hit and is a young, offensively gifted scorer. He hasn't unforunately, put his best foot forward this year and has been limited to only five games so far into the 2011-12 season.
He is however the type of player who sees the ice well, and if given the right opportunities to develop his game, could be a very bright addition to a talented group of skilled forwards ready to make a splash at the NHL level.
The Dallas Stars are an NHL team with substantial cap space ($12-plus million). Now with new ownership fortifying this budget NHL club, they are definitely in a position to spend.
Sheldon Souray has been an excellent addition for Dallas this season but has struggled to continue his scoring touch over the last 10 games. After sending Niskanen with James Neal to the Penguins, Dallas is in the market for bodies—even more now in the wake of injuries to key players.
With Alex Goligoski (hand), Kari Lehtonen (groin), Brenden Morrow (back), Adam Burish (hand) and Trevor Daley (back) all out with various ailments, the Stars power play has suffered mightily.
Cody Franson is the kind of player who would complement and help stabilize the Stars lineup and could easily fit into a regular role immediately.
Being that Brian Burke hasn't been shopping Franson, but has still entertained offers for his services, if Joe Nieuwendyk would be willing to part with a prospect such as Jamie Oleksiak, Burke would surely pull the trigger.
By pulling a high draft pick out of Dallas, the Leafs would be stocking the shelves for the future and appealing to the Stars with a young skilled defenseman who can help them now.
Because Oleksiak is Dallas' first round selection from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (14 overall), it would probably take them sweetening the pot and adding a guy like Darryl Boyce—a solid two-way player who just doesn't fit into this Leafs roster anymore.
Cody Franson and Darryl Boyce
New York Islanders desperately need offense and could use a shake-up to infuse some jump back into their lineup.
Dangling Cody Franson in a trade with the Islanders along with another skilled forward could prove to create some interesting trade scenarios, should General Managers Garth Snow and Brian Burke find some common ground.
What deal involving Franson going to the Islanders would improve both teams?
Cody Franson and Nikolai Kulemin
Kyle Okposo and the Islanders second-round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, plus a fourth-round conditional pick in 2013.
Okposo was drafted by the New York Islanders in the first round (7th overall) in 2006 and is the type of player Burke would like to see in a Leafs jersey. However, giving up both Franson and Kulemin would be too high a price to pay.
To make this deal feasible on both sides, there would have to be a least a second-rounder coming back to Toronto.
To be as concise as possible—and perhaps rather blunt—this trade scenario is quick and dirty.
New York's first-round selection in 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in every little detail when talking "equal value" in trade scenarios. If Burke is going to let Franson out of Toronto, it has to be worth his while.
For the the Rangers, they get a skilled defenseman to fill the void left by Marc Staal (concussion), and in turn the Leafs bring back great potential in what most likely will be a late first-rounder.
Once projected to be the dark horse for another run at Lord Stanley's Cup, instead the Anaheim Ducks are now just facing some very dark days.
Rather than just blowing up the roster by dealing someone like Corry Perry, Ryan Getzlaf or Bobby Ryan, Ducks' General Manager Bob Murray will most likely look to finding other solutions to weather the storm that is their turbulent 2011-12 season.
Without Lubomir Visnovsky (finger) to help dig them out of their current deficit, they could be out of the playoff picture before he even returns.
But for the sake of antagonizing an already irate sports community—fuming at the thought of the Leafs being able to draw anyone from the "RPG" line out of Anaheim—what would it take to bring Ryan to Toronto?
Call it a shake-up or even a blow-up if you would prefer, but the Ducks are in dire need of a turnaround. Let think EPIC on this trade scenario.
Cody Franson, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Nazem Kadri
Bobby Ryan and Rickard Rakell
For the Ducks, they get four skilled players, two of which are capable of 30-goal seasons and would contribute to a more balanced offense from top to bottom. Franson would also bolster their defense as he would be a serviceable addition to help keep there blue line alive while buying time for the Ducks' other big-time stars to find their stride again.
Add former first-round draft pick Nazem Kadri to the list going to Anaheim, and you've got plenty of compensation for Ryan and Rakell.
In return the Leafs get a highly touted star player Ryan to ease the pain of parting ways with two productive forwards. Rickard Rakell who was taken in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (30 overall) would also compensate for Kadri who is still swimming in a sea of good-looking Leafs prospects.
In truth, that's a lot to give up if you're Brian Burke—even if it is for Ryan and another first round selection. But Burke does have the luxury of having depth in these positions and could still avoid leaving any glaring holes in the lineup after a trade like this.
This trade would ultimately benefit both teams. In light of stealing Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner away from the Ducks last year—and in the spirit of keeping good GM relations for future trades—a deal such as this might not be as far-fetched as some might think.