Cody Franson might be the most interesting pending free agent that might be available this summer.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Nashville Predators like him enough to re-sign him to a new deal, but his playing time under head coach Peter Laviolette might be all the indication that we need. After seeing more than 21 minutes a night with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he saw his average ice time sink below 16 minutes on average in Nashville.
That’s to be expected, as the Preds’ defense is in much better shape than Toronto’s, but Franson seemed to struggle with the way he was utilized in Music City.
The 27-year-old seems to thrive when he’s given more ice time, and it isn’t available in Nashville. Not with the top pairing of Shea Weber and Roman Josi locked in and Seth Jones on the rise as a force on the blue line. The Predators traded for Franson in an attempt to “Cup up,” and while GM David Poile should be applauded for being aggressive, it doesn’t seem like the player matched the team very well.
Let’s operate under the assumption that the Predators are going to allow Franson to walk this summer. Maybe they trade his rights at the NHL draft or something along those lines, but defensemen with this kind of upside don’t become available often. While he’s not the No. 1 guy a lot of teams need, there are a number of organizations that could use a talented veteran like Franson on the back end.