Another list of notable UFAs, plus updates on the Bruins and Red Wings defense.
Franson tops list of remaining UFAs.
CBS SPORTS: Defenseman Cody Franson tops Adam Gretz’s list of this summer’s remaining unrestricted free agents. As to why Franson remains unsigned, Gretz speculates the blueliner’s high asking price at the start of free agency (“perhaps Matt Niskanen money?”) or the significant decline in his performance following his trade from Toronto to Nashville are possible factors. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, right wing Alexander Semin, center Eric Fehr and winger Brad Boyes are the other notables on Gretz’s list.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples also mused over why Franson remains unsigned, citing some observers expressing concern over his lack of foot speed. He believes it’s possible Franson will end up with the Edmonton Oilers. Staples suggests the 6’5″ blueliner would be best served as a top-four defenseman, rather than a top-pairing rearguard. He also noted Franson, “a darling of the advanced stats crowd,” stating in the past his desire to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Given that club’s embracement of advanced stats, Staples wonders why they haven’t brought him back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has definitely become “The Summer of Franson.” I believe the combination of a high asking price (rumored earlier this month at $6 million annually) and the decline in his play after joining the Predators are indeed the key reasons why Franson remains unsigned. I also agree with Staples’ assessment that he could be a solid second-pairing defenseman. Franson will eventually be signed, maybe by the Oilers, Leafs or another club, but he’ll have to accept far less than what he was rumored to be seeking at the start of the UFA period.
As for the others on Gretz’s list, Ehrhoff’s concussion history is a concern, Semin’s indifferent performance has hurt his free-agent value, while Fehr and Boyes simply have the bad luck of becoming UFAs in a summer where there aren’t a lot of teams with a willingness to spend. I expect both will eventually be signed, but it could take until September before they get new deals. Even then, they might have to go through tryouts first.
Updates on the Bruins and Red Wings.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently reported Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney remains open to the possibility of adding another defenseman via free agency. Haggerty believes Cody Franson will be too high-priced for the Bruins, suggesting they might instead roll the dice on an aging, established NHL veteran like Marek Zidlicky or Christian Ehrhoff on an affordable one-year deal. The Bruins currently have around $4 million in cap space.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James wonders what the Red Wings will do to clear their current logjam on defense. She notes there’s no urgency to address the issue, as four of their promising young defenders can be demoted without passing through waivers. “Now that the market has settled from the free-agent frenzy of early July, the easiest route is to sit back and see if another team calls about a trade,” she writes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not saying this will happen, but maybe Bruins GM Don Sweeney should give Red Wings GM Ken Holland a call? It might be better than signing a defenseman with a recent concussion history (Ehrhoff) or an aging rearguard (Zidlicky) whose best use now would be as a power-play specialist. Just throwing it out there. Let me know what you think.