Leafs’ Franson signs in Sweden

Unable to secure an NHL contract prior to the lockout, Cody Frason has found a deal in Sweden

Today, Franson signed with reigning Swedish Elite League champion Brynas IF, a deal that was first reported to be a full season in length but, according to the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan, will allow Franson to return to North America should the lockout end.

The 25-year-old RFA found himself in contractual limbo after failing to re-up with the Leafs prior to the CBA expiring on Sept. 15. Unlike other young RFA blueliners that entered the lockout without a contract (Michael Del Zotto, P.K. Subban), Franson wasn’t a major piece of his team’s defense last year, appearing in just 57 games.

That said, he told the Sun he wanted to sign a deal to come back to the Leafs and make his mark.

“You hoped to have it done before, and now you hope to have it done soon after this is resolved,” Franson said of his contract. “For me, it’s a matter of making sure I’m in the best shape, ready to step in and play well right off the bat, put my stamp on things.

“I wasn’t happy with my season last year and the way things went.”

A former third round pick, Franson looked to be a bright up-and-coming blueliner with Nashville, scoring 50 points in his first 141 games at the NHL level. In 2011, he tied for the Preds lead in playoff scoring among blueliners.

He was dealt to Toronto last July with Matthew Lombardi, in exchange for Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.

Gibson (lower-body injury) will play again this regular season, says Carlyle

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The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.

Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.

That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.

While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.

Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.

The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.

Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim