One of the biggest fish left in free agency says more than a few lines have been cast his way.
Cody Franson, the 27-year-old UFA defenseman that’s still yet to sign, says he’s been speaking with five or six teams about possibly signing — a group that includes the Boston Bruins.
“With the trade they made with [Dougie] Hamilton and some of the other stuff they’ve done, they’re one of the teams that we’re in talks with,” Franson told TSN 1040 Vancouver on Tuesday. “Boston would be an interesting spot. It’s obviously an awesome city, and they’ve got a great organization and all those things that come with it.”
It’s not surprising Boston’s in the mix. The club’s blueline has been badly depleted since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 — gone from that team are Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Matt Bartkowski. That’s left the B’s in a rather precarious spot; if the season started today, Boston’s top-four would be comprised of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid.
Zach Trotman, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow and Matt Irwin would (presumably) be battling for spots Nos. 5 and 6.
Franson’s also a good fit to replace Hamilton. Both are rangy, right-hand shots with offensive upside… thing is, it might not work financially. The Bruins have just under $5 million in available cap space, and it sounds like Franson is looking for a deal with a fair amount of money — and something more long-term.
“Obviously, I’d like to get something a little more than one year,” he said. “I’m sick of doing one-year deals.”
Per an earlier report from PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban, it’s believed Pittsburgh and Buffalo are also interested in Franson.
Will Christian Ehrhoff’s long wait for a new contract end with him joining the Columbus Blue Jackets?
It seems that there have been discussions between the two sides, according the Columbus Dispatch’s sources. It was previously reportedly that Columbus went after Dougie Hamilton, Paul Martin, and Kevin Shattenkirk over the course of the offseason in an attempt to bolster their defense, so Ehrhoff would be the latest in a long line of targets.
The problem at this point is that Columbus is close to the cap after acquiring and signing Brandon Saad. Ehrhoff’s agent has already said that his client is open to another one-year contract after completing his $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2014-15 campaign. If he’s willing to be accommodating from a financial standpoint as well, then the Blue Jackets might be able to fit him in under the ceiling.
It’s possible that this situation will drag on as Ehrhoff might wait to see if other more lucrative options materialize, assuming that there aren’t already such prospects on the table.
Ehrhoff was limited to 49 games in 2014-15 due to injuries and finished with three goals and 14 points.
It’s been an eventful few months for the Boston Bruins, and that may be an understatement.
After missing the playoffs this past spring, the firing of Peter Chiarelli, the hiring of Don Sweeney as the new general manager and two major trades at the NHL Draft that saw Dougie Hamilton sent to Calgary and Milan Lucic to L.A., Bruins’ president Cam Neely apparently sees his team as one that could potentially make the post-season in 2016.
“There’s lots of parity in the East,” Neely told the Boston Herald. “It’s going to be tight, it’s going to be a challenge. I think we can be a playoff team. I don’t want to sound like that’s our only goal, just to be a playoff team. That’s not a very high goal. We’re past that.
“But I want to see us improve certainly from where we were last year. I think if guys can continue to improve — (David) Pastrnak, (Brett) Connolly, (Ryan) Spooner — I don’t see why we can’t have a very good year this year.”
Two years after appearing in the Stanley Cup Final — which was two years after Boston won the championship in 2011 — the Bruins missed out on the 2015 playoffs by two points while finishing 23rd in the league in scoring.
Their failure to qualify for the playoffs ushered in change, particularly in the front office. However, the club’s moves at the draft and in the days after brought instant and heavy criticism.
Based on Sweeney’s comments Friday, the Bruins could still go after available free agents prior to the start of the season.
“There are still players out there that may fit,” said Sweeney, as per NESN.com
. “You have conversations with agents about possibilities. I think we’re comfortable with where we are in creating internal competition, but I’m not going to stop sort of asking in areas that we can continue to look at.”
Dougie Hamilton spent three seasons with the Boston Bruins, but he apparently thought he’d be with that organization for a lot longer.
“I always thought I was going to be a Bruin for life, like you said, and always had that vision that I was only going to wear one jersey in the NHL,” said Hamilton, as per CSNNE.com.
“I’m really thankful to that organization for the opportunity I got my first few years and the development I got and everything, so it’s an organization … the fans are unbelievable and teammates and everything. It’s something I enjoyed a lot being there.”
Hamilton’s time with the Bruins came to an abrupt end at the NHL Draft, when the Bruins traded the 22-year-old talented defenseman to the Calgary Flames for three draft picks.
The Bruins had tried to re-sign Hamilton, who at the time of the trade was a pending restricted free agent. According to reports following the trade, Boston’s offer to Hamilton was six years at $33 million.
The Flames signed Hamilton to a six-year deal before the end of June.
They had to trade Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic to get it, but the Boston Bruins finally have some breathing room under the salary cap.
The question now is if they can take advantage.
“If we have any opportunities come up, we now have the flexibility to act on them,” club president Cam Neely told CSN New England. “If something happens now all the way through training camp where we feel we can improve our club, we have a better chance of adding without saying, ‘Okay, now who do we have to subtract?'”
With the loss of Hamilton, which came less than a year after the loss of Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins’ defense is a major question mark heading into 2015-16.
While GM Don Sweeney has called it “a great opportunity” for some of the “kids” — and Neely doesn’t disagree — Neely insists that “by no means are we closing the books and saying this is what we’ve got.”
Unrestricted free agents on defense include Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson. The former is willing to sign a one-year deal, which may be attractive. But Franson, a right shot like Hamilton and Boychuk, may be a better fit.
The Bruins are believed to have made a bid for Mike Green, also a right shot, who signed with Detroit on July 1.
Related: Sweeney explains Hamilton trade: ‘We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer’