(photo via predlines.com)
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Thursday night that the Buffalo Sabres have agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Cody Franson to a 2-year deal with an annual cap hit of 3.3 million.
The 28 year old defenseman from Sicamous, British Columbia has spent time with Nashville and Toronto over his six NHL seasons, posting a career high 5/28/33 in 2013/2014 despite being a -20 in the +/- category.
Most recently, during his second stint with the Nashville Predators, he was given very inconsistent minutes in 23 regular season games, but his advanced stats did look very good. He faced tough competition and non-forgiving zone starts, all while posting a very respectable CF% (Corsi For). So meaningless to say, it was a surprise to see him on the market in mid July, never mind the beginning of September.
At the beginning of the summer we often heard the number six thrown around with Fransons name, in both dollar amount and in term. But as the summer continued on, it was largely expected the defenseman wouldn’t see either of those numbers. It comes as a surprise, to me atleast, to see him sign a deal for under four million dollars, for only two years and with a largely non-competitive team in Buffalo.
That 3.3 million dollar cap hit puts him in the same range as Rob Scuderi, Torey Krug and Jason Demers. In my mind Franson is miles ahead of two of those players, with Demers being a reasonable comparable.
This deal, along with the Christian Ehrhoff signing a few weeks ago, really signals a shift in the mentality of NHL general managers. Gone are the days of throwing lucrative dollars and term at the sexy UFA’s. Instead GM’s appear content with replacement from within, or waiting out the big fish on the market until they can either get them for half the price (in the case of Ehrhoff) or on a PTO as Toronto recently did with winger Curtis Glencross.
From Buffalo’s perspective this could end up being the steal of the summer as Franson adds a legitimate top four defenseman, still in his prime, and will help make sure their young kids don’t have to take too much on their plate.
Here is my projected depth chart for them next season.
|Cody Franson||Zach Bogosian|
|Josh Gorges||Rasmus Ristolainen|
|Mike Weber||Mark Pysyk|
Obviously, Buffalo is still a few moves from being considered contenders, but the defense is shoring up nicely and who knows, they may be a couple career years from players like Ristolainen and Lehner from seriously pushing for a playoff spot in the east.
All in all, the Franson signing is an unreal bargain in my mind and its clear Tim Murray isn’t fooling around with this rebuild. Is it too early to pencil him in for GM of the year in 2016? Either way, we wont be seeing the Sabres near the cellar for a long time.