Insider Only Latest NHL Buzz: Why Penguins wouldn’t go two years for Franson



Cody Franson’s long wait on the free agent market has finally ended.

Franson today signed a two year deal with the Buffalo Sabres that carries an AAV of $3.325 million.

“Happy to get him. We feel we’ve got a top-4, top-5 guy who can play on our first power play,” Sabres GM Tim Murray told Buffalo reporters today. “He’s a skilled defenseman. Obviously a big body. He’s got some range, long reach, does take some space to get by him.”

Franson has been an interesting case this summer. Right handed defensemen with skill are coveted by almost every team but no agent mis-calculated the market more than Franson’s agent Gerry Johannson did.

The Franson camp went into the free agent negotiating period seeking a six year deal worth $40 million and were quite confident Franson was going be the Matt Niskanen of the 2015 free agent class.

It was a huge mis-calculation.

“Once [Mike] Green went off the board at three years [$18 million], it should have been a reality check for Cody and the agent,” an Eastern Conference executive said of Franson’s limited market. “He’s a ‘five’ and the agent was trying to sell him as a ‘two’.”

Franson is one of those players who is overrated by the analytics crowd but Tim Murray see’s Franson the right way. His biggest asset is being able to move the puck. If you’re expecting him to be a shutdown defenseman, you’re going to be disappointed.

“When you see an Evander Kane going down the left side at full speed, I’d rather he get the puck on his stick vs having to stop and take it off the glass with his glove, restart again and the play is dead. Cody is a guy who can really pass the puck and we know he can play on the power play,” Murray said.

“What we want him to excel at is moving the puck, skating the puck and shooting the puck. Whatever he does after that is a bonus.”

The Bruins, Islanders, Hurricanes were three teams also in the mix for Franson but Buffalo had been in the drivers seat for weeks to sign Franson due to a desire to go two years and match his salary from last season.

The Penguins viewing Franson as a strong fit in Mike Johnston’s system was no secret. The team pursued Franson at the trade deadline and kicked the tires on him again this summer. Franson’s desire of a multi-year deal derailed the Penguins chances of signing him when talks were serious in late July/Early August.

With intentions of locking up Olli Maatta to a long-term contract in the near future that could cost at least $5 million per season against the cap and an organizational mandate from up top Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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