Report: Leafs, Franson $2.2 million apart 2 days ahead of salary arbitration hearing

by Jul 19, 11:25 AM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a player-elected salary arbitration hearing with defenseman Cody Franson scheduled for Monday. The rules of salary arbitration, which are governed by Article 12 of the 2013 NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement, state that the two sides have to exchange briefs no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled opening of the hearing. 

Those briefs generally include a desired "figure," and Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman is reporting that the divide between the two camps remains significant just two days before the scheduled hearing:

Franson declined to file for arbitration last summer, and struggled to follow up on a career year during the lockout-abbreviated 2013 campaign this past season. Still, the always efficient point producer managed five goals and 33 points in 79 games.

Looking at the contracts handed out to group two restricted free agent defenseman like Jason Demers, Slava Voynov, Roman Josi, John Carlson, Cam Fowler, and Dmitry Kulikov in recent years, Franson's $4.2 million ask seems reasonable based on the minutes he's logged and his offensive production over the past couple of years. 

Because Franson is one year away from unrestricted free agency, any award in arbitration will result in a one-year contract, per Friedman. The Maple Leafs will only be able to walk away from a potential arbitration award if that award comes in above $3.5 million (subject to an annual increase of the same percentage as the increase in the average league salary), per article 12.10 (d). 

[This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the $3.5 million walk away limit is adjusted annually by the same percentage as the increase in average league salary]

Jul 21, 5:11 PM

Leafs re-sign Franson: 'Looking to improve' plus/minus rating next season

by Jul 21, 5:11 PM

Cody Franson and the Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.3 million contract prior to Monday's scheduled arbitration. The 26-year-old appeared on Sportsnet 590 shortly thereafter, addressing, among other things, what he needs to improve upon over the course of the short-term contract:

I think I just have to keep improving. Keep building on the previous seasons. Obviously last year we didn’t finish the way we wanted to. There’s always room for improvement. Obviously my plus-minus wasn’t what I wanted it to be last year and that’s something I’ll be looking to improve upon this year. Just keep trying to move forward and being progressive.

For those who put stock in that particular stat, Franson registered a minus-20 rating in 2013-14, by far the worst of his career. As a team, the Maple Leafs allowed 3.07 goals per game with a historically-poor 43.3 Corsi For rating (via Extra Skater), meaning Franson's numbers certainly didn't exist in a vacuum.

Franson added the following in regards to his struggles last season:

The first year I was playing with Mark Fraser and he’s, as you know, a very defensive-minded type player and we clicked really well. Last year, when they traded Fras, we kind of played around with a bunch of different pairings and I eventually ended up with [Jake Gardiner]. Me and Gards are both kind of offensive-minded type players are sometimes that can take a little bit to get figured out, but I think we were starting to get the hang of it pretty good toward the end.

He added there have been no discussions in regards to his long-term future with the team, but believes he can help the team as they learn from mistakes that led to a late-season collapse this past season:

Last year we really felt the pressure. I mean, we started going on a small skid and eventually snowballed. It’s tough to keep everything out of the room sometimes. We feel the weight of the fans and all that kind of stuff when that goes on. So we were doing the best we could, but it wasn’t enough last year and we’ll be looking to build upon that and learn from those mistakes and more forward in a strong way.

[H/T Nichols On Hockey]

Jul 21, 9:45 AM

Leafs, Franson avoid arbitration, agree to terms on 1-year, $3.3 million contract

by Jul 21, 9:45 AM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have avoided arbitration with defenseman Cody Franson on Monday, with the two sides agreeing to a one-year, $3.3 million contract as first reported by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. The settlement has since been confirmed officially by the team.

The settlement falls $1.3 million above what the Toronto Maple Leafs were asking for at arbitration, and $900,000 below what Franson's camp was seeking; a tacit admission from the Maple Leafs that Franson's arbitration case was probably somewhat stronger.

The 26-year-old can still get burned out wide by attacking forwards, but is physical and productive offensively. The power-play ace finished 20th among all defenders in the NHL in points over the past two seasons. Upon the expiry of this one-year deal, Franson will be an unrestricted free agent. 

Jul 20, 6:39 PM

Report: Leafs, Franson likely to avoid arbitration with 'last minute deal' prior to hearing Monday

by Jul 20, 6:39 PM

With Cody Franson and the Maple Leafs set to gather Monday for an arbitration hearing, word out of Toronto is that an agreement on a new contract for the 26-year-old defenseman will be announced before their meeting.

At the same time, Mirtle adds he believes the "Leafs intend to move Franson though. Lot of decisions up in the air, even come training camp."

Read more: 3 things you need to know about Cody Franson's salary arbitration hearing

As previously reported, the two sides were believed to be $2.2 million apart heading into the weekend (see below); the likely scenario is an agreement to meet somewhere in the middle on a short-term contract.