Give-and-take gets deal done for Leafs' Cody Franson | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLGive-and-take gets deal done for Leafs' Cody Franson

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 05:10 PM

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Maple Leafs blue-liner Cody Franson had 29 points in last-season's shortened NHL campaign. Possessing a wicked shot, he has the potential to be better, according to CBCSports.ca hockey writer Mike Brophy, but Franson doesn't shoot nearly enough. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images) Maple Leafs blue-liner Cody Franson had 29 points in last-season's shortened NHL campaign. Possessing a wicked shot, he has the potential to be better, according to CBCSports.ca hockey writer Mike Brophy, but Franson doesn't shoot nearly enough. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Cody Franson didn't get the money he was looking for, but he got the term - one year. The question now is, was last season Franson's breakout year or the exception? CBCSports.ca hockey writer Mike Brophy reports from Leafs training camp.
Cody Franson didn't get the money he was looking for, but he got the term - one year.

The 26-year-old native of Sicamous, B.C., signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs and re-joined his teammates on the ice at MasterCard Centre to prepare for the opening of the 2013-14 season Tuesday in Montreal (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).

Franson will play in the team's final two pre-season games against the Detroit Red Wings Friday and Saturday.

"I'm glad it's done," Franson said. "It's a process nobody really wants to go through and fortunately we were able to find common ground and get it done before the regular season started."

Franson, who reportedly turned down a two-year, $5.1 million US offer, signed a one-year contract for $2 million. He said he didn't go to arbitration because he was worried if he lost the case he'd be locked into a multi-year contract for less money than he feels he deserves. Now he'll be trying to repeat the success he enjoyed last season in hopes that his next deal will be more in line with what he believes he is worth.

A four-year NHL veteran, Franson led all Leafs defencemen in scoring last season with four goals and 29 points (which translates to seven goals and 53 points in an 82-game season) which was good for fourth in club scoring. He added another three goals and six points in seven playoff games, third best on the team.

The question now is, was last season Franson's breakout year or the exception? Clearly he has the potential to be better. He has a wicked shot, but doesn't shoot nearly enough. At six-foot-five and 213 pounds he is on the large side, but doesn't play a physical game.

If Franson comes back with similar numbers this season, the thinking is the Maple Leafs will sign him to a long-term deal for significantly more money.

"I don't want to go through that again," Franson said. "I love being here in Toronto. This is where I want to be and that's the main reason why everything happened."

LIFE OF RIELLY

With Franson back in camp, the question now is what becomes of Morgan Rielly? The 19-year-old was all the rage when training camp opened, but as time progressed, he has fallen back to the pack.

In fact, against Ottawa Sunday night, he looked very much like a junior hockey player in over his head. To be fair, Rielly may be getting tired.

The Leafs have a veteran defence corps with Dion Phaneuf, Mark Fraser, Carl Gunnarsson, John-Michael Liles, Jake Gardiner, Paul Ranger and Franson, so it would not be surprising if Toronto decides to send him back to Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League. He could also be captain of Team Canada at the world junior championship.

"Morgan Rielly is another decision that is looming and that is something that will play out not necessarily tomorrow or the next day," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We have 10 games and we have that time frame to make that decision on Morgan."

BOLLAND'S BACK

Centre David Bolland returned to practice Thursday after missing a few days with a sore groin.
A member of last season's Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, Bolland is pumped to be just a few days away from starting a new chapter in his career with his hometown Maple Leafs.

"Coming over to Toronto after being with Chicago for so long is a bit of a change," Bolland said. "It's nice to get around and to see other teams. I'm happy to be here in Toronto. This is a special team here."

NOT NEW, DEFINITELY IMPROVED

Members of the media are noticing a significantly more chatty Phil Kessel this season.

This is a guy who used to try to back out of a media scrum, often gave answers that amounted to just a few words and wouldn't speak to the media when it was determined the Maple Leafs would face his old team, the Boston Bruins, in the opening round of the playoffs last season.

A few things are in play here. For starters, Kessel got the monkey off his back with a productive playoffs last season, scoring four goals and six points in seven games. He was easily Toronto's best player in the post-season. Also, the Bruins traded Tyler Seguin, the main player they acquired when they sent Kessel to Toronto, to Dallas, thus taking more pressure off Kessel.

Finally, Kessel is in a contract year and it would not be surprising if his agent has reminded him that endearing himself to the local media might go a long way toward securing a long and lucrative contract with the Maple Leafs. It's hard for the media to rag on a guy who is being friendly and co-operative.

Oh, there's also the fact that Kessel is 25 and is showing signs of maturing. Remember, he has been through a lot in his young life, battling testicular cancer as a teenager and then being part of one of the most controversial trades in Maple Leafs history.

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