Report: Leafs may not be able to keep Franson
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to re-sign restricted free-agent defenceman Cody Franson. And why not? Franson recorded more points from the back-end in 2013 than Toronto's first line centre Tyler Bozak did, and the Leafs locked up Bozak on an extremely generous deal in early July.
Franson trade speculation will heat up. Leafs would like to keep him, but $$ is too much. Prospect and draft pick fair return?— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 26, 2013
Ultimately Franson's percentage driven breakout campaign in 2013, in concert with the descending salary cap for next season, may have taken the young defenceman out of Toronto's price range altogether.
Dreger suggests that Franson's camp is looking for too much money for Toronto's liking, and that the Leafs - who have just a tick over 6 million in cap-space remaining, and still have to lockup RFA defenceman Mark Fraser and RFA forward Nazem Kadri - may look to trade the big, soon to be 26 year old blue-liner:
As a relatively young defenceman with size, hands and a deceptive shot from the point, Franson would presumably have significant value on the trade market. Capable young defenceman are one of the league's rarest commodities after all.
Franson was a regular healthy scratch under Ron Wilson in 2011-12, but blossomed during the lockout shortened 2013 campaign. He was particularly impressive when paired with Jake Gardiner in the latter half of Toronto's first round playoffs series against the Bruins.
But hey, sometimes teams need to save their cap-space for more important things than young defenceman with size and offensive talent. Like depth defenceman Mark Fraser's forthcoming, gaudy arbitration award.