29-Year-Old Defenseman – Buffalo Sabres
Cody Franson Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $6.65 million contract with the Sabres in September 2015.
Franson scored his first goal of the year -- and the Sabres' only one of the game -- on a second-period power play in Thursday's loss to Tampa Bay.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Cody Franson.
The biggest name left on the unrestricted free agent market after the dust settled, Franson finally landed a two-year deal with the Sabres a week before training camp opened in September. Though he struggled after coming over to Nashville following his February trade from Toronto, Franson put together a seven-goal, 36-point season across 78 games. During his time in the Music City, the 28-year-old was overshadowed by Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, and Ryan Ellis, preventing him from claiming the quality minutes or power-play time needed to drive production. In Buffalo, however, Franson will be tasked with assuming a larger role as a top-four defenseman, which could allow him to rediscover his scoring touch. However, because his plus/minus rating figures to take a dip as a member of a Sabres roster that's still rebuilding, it may make sense to ignore Franson until the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
Franson would have been on a short flight to Montreal had Josh Georges OK'd a trade to Toronto. Instead, he avoided arbitration with a last-minute, one-year deal with the Leafs and he'll apparently be in camp come September barring another trade. He set a career-best in points (33) last season and had 28 assists, 17 of which came with the man advantage. He probably won't be on the Leafs' first unit this season - they're going to experiment with Jake Gardiner up there to start, but that won't stop Franson from controlling unit two and setting another new career high in points. Slow feet don't matter in fantasy. He should be a top-40 guy in standard 12-team formats.
Franson led the Leafs' blue line in scoring last season and is in for a huge raise this year. But do the Leafs have room for his salary? He's a Randy Carlyle kind of player, so he'll continue to grow his game if the Buds can find a way to fit him under the cap. But can he translate his 29 points last season into the 50-plus it would have been over a full 82? Probably not, but 40-45 points and close to 200 hits are surely within reach.
Once upon a time, Franson was a can't miss prospect who had it all -- hockey smarts, booming slap shot and an outstanding first pass. And then along came a trade to Toronto and the bottom just fell out for him. His poor foot speed and questionable gap control were exposed in an up-tempo environment, and he found himself stapled to the bench -- or a healthy scratch -- far too often. Still, he's just 25 and he can resurrect his career ... just not in Toronto. Count on 30-points max in blue and white. Adjust your cheat sheets accordingly.
Franson is either a future star on the blue line or the next Andy Delmore. We know that comp hurts but it had to be said. As much as we love his smooth passing and nasty slapper, Franson often gets himself out-smarted and out-positioned in the defensive zone by speedy, skilled forwards. Hence the Delmore chirp. Still, thereís a whole lot of stud in this guy if the Leafs can pair him with a responsible veteran who can teach him how to compensate for a few of those shortcomings. Thatís what will ultimately help him eliminate those Delmore comps. And help him hit the 50-point plateau in the next three years.
Franson averaged just over 14 minutes per game last season as the Preds' sixth defenseman, but was very productive scoring-wise with 21 points (6G, 15A) in 61 games. He also ranked third among the team's blueliners in power play minutes per game (1:58). With the recent departure of fellow blueliner Dan Hamhuis, there may be an opportunity for Franson to see more ice time this coming season. He'd be a nice late-round sleeper selection in deeper fantasy formats.
Franson's is a prospect blueliner on the rise, and one to watch in the upcoming season. He is a monster at 6-5 and 205 pounds, and his skating is more than adequate for a player of his size. Franson made his AHL debut with a bang last season at Milwaukee, posting 11 goals and 25 assists in 76 games. He's poised for another great season with the Admrials in 2008-09, and we wonder how much longer the Preds can keep him in the farm system.
Franson's stock has risen greatly since he was selected in the third round by Nashville in the 2005 draft. Franson is a monster at 6-5 and 215, and his skating is more than adequate for a player of his size. After picking up just 13 points in his first season in the WHL two years ago, Franson had 55 points in 71 games in 2005 and 51 points in 59 games this past season. Franson is currently the top defensive prospect in the Nashville system.
Franson was drafted in round 3 of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (selection #79). He was named the WHL's defenseman of the year in 2007 after a 51-point campaign in just 59 games. He will likely be playing for Milwaukee of the AHL in 2007-08.