The Toronto Maple Leafs finally finished one of their largest offseason goals, in getting forward Nazem Kadri locked up. The painful negotiations finally resulted in Kadri taking a bridge deal from the Leafs, rather than the long term deal he coveted.
While it’s obviously huge to get him signed, if even only for the next couple of years to set him up for a bigger deal, it could have some other ramifications on the rest of this Maple Leafs roster. The main effect it could have is on defenseman Cody Franson.
It was often overlooked that Franson was also a restricted free agent, in addition to Kadri. However, with Kadri’s negotiations being much more public, no one paid as much attention to the Leafs’ young defenseman, outside of a couple of days worth of trade rumors.
With Kadri now signed, those trade rumors stand a chance of re-emerging. Franson stands to earn a pretty nice raise from the $1.2 million cap hit he carried last season. Its his emergence as an all-around defenseman that sparked a heavy amount of talk about perhaps trading Dion Phaneuf earlier this summer.
Which means he’s in line for a pretty hefty raise, perhaps up into the $3.5-4 million range per year, if not more. That’s bad news for the Maple Leafs, who likely don’t want to part with a young defenseman who plays as well at both ends as Franson does.
Does that mean that they’ll be forced to move him? If they are, there won’t be a shortage of takers. However, they would likely explore other trade avenues first. Maybe they try and get a Phaneuf trade done before the season and open up space for Franson and a deadline move. Maybe they make it work in others ways.
At this point, it’s tough to see the Leafs solving their problem by cutting Franson loose. They’ll likely explore other ways of opening up some funds, because Franson simply isn’t a talent that you’re looking to move at this point. He’s part of their young core and will be re-signed. It’s just a matter of when, and who the Leafs have to cut loose in order to do it.