The Vancouver Canucks are heading into 2017-18 with a questionable blue line, but signing free agent Cody Franson could provide help them boast a more formidable defence.
Though Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning already added a handful of new players in the early hours of free agency, a handful of notable names remain available on the open market.
From Thomas Vanek to Jaromir Jagr to Jarome Iginla, some of the top players of this decade are still looking for work. But given the ages and decline in production of those three veterans, it’s not surprising to see them without contract.
But one defenceman that should have been off the market a long time ago? Defenceman Cody Franson, who could be a solid piece to Vancouver’s inconsistent and leaky blue line.
The 6-foot-5, 224-pound native of Sicamous, B.C. doesn’t come with a lot of offensive upside (115 points in 236 NHL games), but Franson would bring everything the Canucks need more of from their defencemen: Size, physicality and the stay-at-home style of play.
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And though he doesn’t score a lot, Franson comes with great puck possession skills. He owns a career 52.6 Corsi For percentage.
It was at 57.8 in 2014-15 and 54.0 percent in 2015-16, though it dropped down to 51.2 last season. Still, Franson would be a huge help for the Canucks in that department.
Chris Tanev is obviously the team’s most responsible blueliner, now imagine if he got the chance to play with Franson. That would be a dangerous shutdown pairing that new head coach Travis Green could rely on.
Bang for the buck
At this stage, Franson would likely be happy to accept a one-year deal from any team. It’s tough to envision him commanding over $3 million a season, when he’s been available on the open market for over a month now.
The Canucks have troubles sticking with their bigger and faster foes, namely the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. Franson would be a great defender against the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Pavelski and Connor McDavid.
For what he brings to the ice, Franson would come at great value for the Canucks. Yes, they have six capable starting defencemen, but it never hurts to have too much depth.
Edler, Tanev and Gudbranson have injury histories. The former could also get traded, given his age (31), and contract situation (free agent in 2019). So now would be a good time for the Canucks to get a bang-for-your-buck player in Franson. When did it ever hurt to have too many blueliners?
Bring Franson home
Franson (a native of Sicamous, as mentioned earlier), would probably love to get the chance to play for his hometown team. Vancouver knows their defensive core is decent enough, but not exactly perfect.
As Franson awaits a contract offer, Benning should be calling him to get a deal done. Franson has all the tools and skills that most of the Canucks’ defence lacks. He’d be an ideal fit, and would simply be a low-risk, high-reward addition.
So if the Vancouver Canucks are looking at adding one more piece to their roster for 2017-18, then Cody Franson is the guy to call.