There is no doubt that Johan Franzen can put up an offensive show for the Detroit Red Wings when he is hot. The man called “The Mule” in Hockeytown has benefited greatly from being on Pavel Datysuk’s wing, scoring around 30 goals the past four seasons he has played in at least 70 games. He was also an absolute beast in the playoffs in both 2008 and 2009, scoring 13 and 12 goals, respectively, in the postseason. The fact is, however, that Franzen’s cold spells and injuries are bringing up questions of his future in Detroit.
The “Mule” has a shot really not like any other in the NHL. His sort of mutant snap-wrist shot is an absolute lazer, and when placed correctly is not stopped by any goaltender. With Datsyuk and line mate regular Todd Bertuzzi, he often gets himself into open shooting spaces and lets his deadly shot go. The problem far too often last postseason was that he was either not finding those spaces or his shot wasn’t hitting the mark.
To be fair, many Red Wings did not hit their mark in last year’s series against the Nashville Predators. It seems an aging core and now thin defense needs a greater tune up then Swiss star Damien Brunner and Michael Samuelsson. That tune up, many Wings faithful believe, needs to come on the defensive end. The only elite defenseman the Wings will be getting at this point is through a trade, and the only forward with enough pull for that trade might just be Johan Franzen.
Give to get. That’s the motto when it comes to a blockbuster trade.
The Wings could find another team who will take Franzen’s offensive skills and worry less about his less than ideal defensive abilities. His cap hit at 5 million for the next few years is more than reasonable in today’s marketplace, and a team giving up a top-4 defenseman receives a proven goal scorer in the playoffs. This is something a team like the San Jose Sharks may very well want to consider.
The fact is many Wings fans would be sad to see the Mule go, as would I. On the other hand, with strong offensive talent waiting in the minors, the Wings can afford to put one of their young guns next to Datsyuk and allow him to benefit from his magic. Heck, even the Montreal Canadiens’ Scott Gomez could score at least 20 goals again on Datsyuk’s wing. Giving up Franzen may not be insanely popular, but to shore up the Wings defensive corps, it might just be the wisest choice.