After prepping for three years, Franson excited to test free agency


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.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.