This is the second year in a row that Cody Franson has given the Leafs front office headaches in terms of salary negotiation. Unlike last year, the Leafs are in no rush to get him signed. They were willing to ship him out to the Canadiens for Josh Gorges before he (Gorges) declined the trade and instead went to the Sabres.
Elliotte Friedman tweeted that Franson submitted a $4.2M offer for salary arbitration while the Leafs submitted $2 M. Perhaps its just a regular GM move to submit a low-ball offer for a player that was second in the league in hits (282) and had the highest points amongst defensemen on the Leafs with 33 points.
Franson has submitted $4.2M. TOR has submitted $2M. They can still settle beforehand.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 19, 2014
The main criticism against Franson is that he can be at times a defensive liability and is more of a one-dimensional offensive defenseman. If it wasn’t for his defensive struggles, there would be no hesitation on the Leafs side to offer him a Hjalmarsson type contract who has a cap hit of $4.1 million.
The optimal solution for the Leafs would be to get him signed on a 2 year contract worth 7 million and trade him the year after or else just trade him right now for a draft pick/defensive defensman. The Leafs already have Gardiner who put up 31 points, second amongst d-man for the Leafs and they have Rielly who is ready to take the next step. To have three offensive defensman is a bit redundant considering one of the Leafs biggest issues was getting the puck away from their zone as they kept getting out-shot last season.
Whatever the Leafs choose to do, they must act fast as the deadline approaches. It would suck to stick with a player you don’t want for a whole year and not be able to trade him (depending on the contract he signs, if the two parties decide to go through arbitration).