Coming into the league, Cody Franson was never the best skater, he was really never the best defender, but one thing was certain with Franson, he had a very electric and accurate shot.
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Whether it was a slapshot from the slot, or a snapping wrist shot from the blueline, Franson's accuracy with his shot is nearly unmatched.
In junior, Franson—who played with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, was an absolute stud on the blueline. His rookie season with the Giants was one to forget, however, the following season was when Franson began to come into his own in junior hockey.
In 71 games, Franson scored 15 goals and added 40 assists for 55 points. If that wasn't enough, Franson scored 17 goals the following season with the Giants in 12 fewer games and finished with 51 points, a better point-per-game average than his previous season.
He was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 3rd round, 79th overall, a few spots behind the likes of Kris Letang taken 62nd by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Jon Quick taken 72nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings.
His career never really exploded with the Predators playing behind the likes of Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Dan Hamhuis before he went to the Vancouver Canucks.
Then the moment that changed his career, he was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a cap clearing move, along with Matt Lombardi in exchange for defender Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney.
This was a move that the Predators to this day are probably regretting.
Luckily for the Preds, Ron Wilson was coaching the Leafs at the time and never really fancied Franson, usually playing him sparingly or never at all, sitting up in the pressbox.
However, since Wilson was fired and Randy Carlyle took over, Franson has been a revelation. In the Leafs first playoff season since prior to the lockout of 2004-05, Franson helped lead the Leafs to one of the best power-plays in the NHL.
According to Todd Cordell's stats from his article, Franson led the league in points per 60 minutes of 5 vs 4, and was second in IPP (individual power-play points)— second to Jets rugged defender Dustin Byfuglien.
What made Franson's season even more impressive was that 3/4 of the time his points came on the power-play, but, unlike guys like Dion Phaneuf or Brian Campbell, he did not finish the season as a minus player.
Playing alongside defensive partner Mark Fraser, Franson finished the year with a plus eight rating.
Franson's importance to the Leafs is really not discussed but it should be. His accurate point shot adds dimension to the Leafs powerplay.
His size and skill at over 6'5" and 220 pounds makes him one of the more intimidating point presence's in the league. Add to it he's one of the elder statesmen on the Leafs blueline, and his importance to the team is magnified.
With the Leafs in a bit of a cap crunch, the need to sign both Franson and second line center Nazem Kadri to new deals is by far and away the most important thing on Dave Nonis' agenda before the season begins.
If either or both of them hold out for a better deal, the Leafs season may be over before it even started.
Sign Franson, Sign Kadri and start the season.
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