The Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers are the two finalists to sign free agent defenseman Cody Franson, per NEWS 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal. Another report named the Canucks and Sharks as suitors, but it appears we’re actually down to a couple potential Western Conference contenders.
Been told UFA Cody Franson is down to Edmonton or Chicago. Vancouver never called.— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) September 5, 2017
Franson, 30, is one of the top remaining free agents on the market. While other defensemen like Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, and Dmitry Kulikov got multi-year, multimillion dollar deals, the same interest hasn’t materialized for him. As Mahiban notes, it’s looking more likely he settles for a one-year deal at this point.
The Blackhawks would be a very logical fit given their defensive shakeup this summer. The team has Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy to fill two spots on the right side of the blue line, but the final spot is a toss up right now between Ville Pokka, Jan Rutta, or Michal Rozsival if there are no additions made by opening night.
Franson would solidify that spot with size (6’5, 224 pounds) and a good track record of driving possession on bad teams. He wouldn’t be a game-changer for the Hawks, but given how much uncertainty there is on the roster already, it’d be a sensible move to cut into that by lowering the need to depend on Pokka, Rutta, or Rozy.
One question is how the Hawks might choose to pay for Franson. The team is already right at the salary cap with Marian Hossa on the books. Unless Franson is willing to settle for a very affordable (i.e. less than $1 million) one-year deal, it’s hard to see how he fits until Hossa goes on long-term injured reserve after the start of the season.
The Hawks could sign Franson to a professional tryout agreement, with a handshake deal to give him a more substantial one-year deal in October after Hossa goes on LTIR. Or maybe Franson just wants a guaranteed deal now, and would compromise by taking a low enough price tag to make it workable for the Hawks.