With just over a month remaining until free agency begins, Cody Franson is set to become one of the most sought after blue liners.
It’s a process Franson and his agency, The Sports Corporation, have been anticipating for a number of years.
“It is exciting,” Franson’s agent Gerry Johannson told PHT earlier this week. “Cody’s a great player and an even better guy so this is going to be a very interesting process for sure.
“We’ve talked to Cody about this the last three years. We prepare our clients well in advance for situations like this. Most guys don’t go to free agency, but it does happen.”
Sportsnet recently ranked the 15 most valuable players headed to free agency. On the list were five defensemen including Montreal’s Jeff Petry and Franson.
It’s believed several teams will be in the mix for Franson’s services, with the likes of the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers possibly interested. Franson has already expressed an interest in Vancouver and Toronto.
He has played the past three seasons on one-year deals. His $3.3 million contract signed with Toronto last summer is set to expire in July.
It’s the first time in his career Franson will hit the open market after a 23 game stint with the Nashville Predators didn’t quite work out.
“Chemistry is a funny thing and for some reason he just didn’t seem to fit in the lineup like you thought he would on paper,” Johannson said of Nashville. “I don’t try to figure out what coaches are thinking.”
The Predators still have a month to workout a trade for Franson’s rights, but as of this moment it doesn’t appear things are headed in thtat direction.
“Nashville owns Cody’s rights up until then. That’s largely between the teams to figure out, if they want to make a move on Cody earlier, if they can,” said Johannson. “I’m sort of focused on July 1. That’s the only thing we know for sure.
“We’re not spending a whole lot of time worrying about (a trade). We’re just preparing for July 1 and being ready to move forward.”
Franson was dealt to Nashville from Toronto in February after contract talks with the Leafs stalled.
“They had their agenda and they have their priorities,” said Johannson. “There wasn’t a deal to be made. We had some discussions. Nothing that obviously led anywhere. They were going in a different direction.”
It’s believed Franson’s negotiations with the Leafs while a restricted free agent weren’t the smoothest either.
“Cody’s a very mature guy and he’s a real professional. I think we all understand each negotiation is different at different times,” said Johannson. “Cody is going to become a free agent because of it, so there’s a benefit to him. No hard feelings.”
Franson set career highs in goals (7) and points (37) while appearing in 78 games split between the Leafs and Predators during the 2014-15 season.