The Chicago Blackhawks have signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. The move was made official after the Hawks placed Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve to free up the salary cap space to pay Franson.
The deal will have a $1 million cap hit, per The Athletic’s Scott Powers, which means Chicago could bury the full cap hit in the AHL if things go bad and he clears waivers.
Franson joined the Blackhawks on a professional tryout deal in September after passing on guaranteed contracts from other teams. It was apparent at the time that both sides had a handshake deal in place to get the defenseman a contract once Hossa went on LTIR, so it would’ve taken a disastrous training camp for that to fall apart.
While Franson is a divisive player given the gulf between his underlying statistics, which are quite good, and the eye test, which underscores his middling mobility, this seems like a no-brainer move for the Hawks given the minimal risk involved.
Over the past few years with bad NHL teams, Franson has tended to be a relative bright spot. He’s posted positive Corsi Relative numbers, which means the team’s Corsi is higher with him on the ice than off, in every single year of his career. He’s also recorded 29-plus points in four different seasons, so he can bring some offensive punch from the back end with the booming shot that comes from his 6’5 frame.
The Blackhawks now have seven defensemen on the roster, and could have eight if Gustav Forsling is recalled from the AHL. Don’t be surprised if the blender is turned to overdrive early this season as Joel Quenneville figures out his best defensive mix to make a run.