No, I’m not talking about going out and landing a top tier center, or improving in net. I’m talking about re-signing restricted free agent (RFA) Cody Franson.
In the grand scheme of things, re-upping a second pairing defenseman may not seem like the most pressing of issues for Toronto, especially considering they finished last season in the cellar of the NHL yet again.
Make no mistake, though; Franson is an incredible talent who still happens to be young and could develop into a great NHL defender.
His size, grit and shot make for one heck of a combination, something the Leafs could certainly use. At 24 years of age, Franson also has as much, or more, playoff experience than most of the current roster as well, making him a valuable asset in that regard.
Then there’s the fact that Franson is part of a group of young defensemen in Toronto that could really benefit from developing together for the next few years (along with players like Carl Gunnarsson and Jake Gardiner).
Toronto could also really use his cannon of a shot from the point on their second powerplay unit alongside a nifty playmaking defenseman like Gunnarsson or Gardiner.
While Franson could still use some work on his skating ability and could benefit from Randy Carlyle‘s style of tougher play – another knock on the kid is that he doesn’t use his size nearly enough – he is still 24-years young and may be one of the most underrated youngsters in the NHL today.
It would be a poor move to let him walk or trade him away.