Franson Brings Scoring and Questions to Buffalo D

For weeks, rumors have been floating about that the Buffalo Sabres had been in talks with free agent defenseman Cody Franson. Those rumors were laid to rest today as the team announced they’ve signed the d-man, who began his career in Nashville, played a few seasons in Toronto, and then returned to the Predators on a deadline deal last season.

Franson's signing begs more questions than answers.  Photo from sb7.sportsblog.com

Franson’s signing begs more questions than answers. Photo from sb7.sportsblog.com

Franson has proven to be a strong two-way player, with nearly 30 assists the past two seasons on a Maple Leafs team that had a lot of trouble scoring. He should easily be able to match or even exceed those numbers with a rejuvenated Sabres lineup that Murray has sculpted into what fans hope will be three hefty scoring lines.

Buffalo definitely needed to add a top-four defenseman, which Franson has been in the past, but the move is curious, nonetheless. Franson is a right-handed shot, and Buffalo’s number one and number three defensemen, Bogosian and Ristolainen, are both righties, which would indicate that Franson won’t be in the fourth slot the way the roster is constructed now.

Risto won't be giving up his spot without a fight.  Photo from tsn.ca

Risto won’t be giving up his spot without a fight. Photo from tsn.ca

This is especially interesting given the recent report by NHL insider Elliotte Friedman that Murray has been testing the Steven Stamkos waters and could be bolstering a lineup that would be weakened by a trade. Still, it doesn’t appear that Tampa would be interested in Bogosian, Risto, or Franson, as

The Stamkos rumors aren't helping matters any.  Photo from sportsnet.com

The Stamkos rumors aren’t helping matters any. Photo from sportsnet.com

their top four defensemen are an amazing combination of skill and size, lighting the lamp more often than most Sabres’ forwards did last season. The odd man out in Tampa could be Braydon Coburn, who didn’t have the scoring acumen of his younger counterparts last season. The price tag for Stamkos would be pretty hefty, too; and we’d definitely have to give up a center, but I doubt very much Murray will be trading Buffalo’s highest paid player in O’Reilly, and with Jack Eichel drawing over 17,000 fans to a scrimmage, his position on the team seems pretty safe.

All trade speculation aside, lingering questions about Buffalo’s defense haven’t necessarily been squashed with this signing. Franson can score, and that will be important to the team this season, but I’m not sure the move has strengthened the defensive unit as a whole. It is difficult to see Murray’s vision here, and while we can never really know what wheels are turning behind those cold, dead eyes, there generally seems to be some method to his madness (read: genius.)

It will be an interesting end to the offseason, to say the least. This weekend, Buffalo will host prospect teams from New Jersey and Boston in a round-robin tournament that mimics the Traverse City tournament held in Michigan. A week later, training camp will start, and the camp roster should be coming out soon. While the big names will top that list, there may be a few surprises – players that outshined the field in the prospect camp held earlier this summer. We’ll also get a glimpse at Murray’s plan with the defense, and we’ll get to see if Murray was right about goaltending pickup Robin Lehner, who is one of the biggest questions heading into the season.

LET'S GO BUFF-A-LO!  Photo from youtube.com

LET’S GO BUFF-A-LO! Photo from youtube.com

Expectations are unreasonably high for most fans this season. This team is untested, and most of the top six forwards have yet to play a game together. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the team looked a bit like a newborn colt, shaking on its legs as it walks for the first time. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we’ll see the sinewy race horse, mouth peeled back in a determined grimace as it races toward the playoffs.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Franzen cleared to play; remembering 'Lisa on Ice'; PTOs for everyone (Puck Headlines) - FMSports.org - September 14, 2015

    […] • Cody Franson will bring some offense to the Buffalo Sabres. [What’s Going On In Buffalo?] […]

  2. Franzen cleared to play; remembering 'Lisa on Ice'; PTOs for everyone (Puck Headlines) | Jeffery Lipton - freelance writer - September 14, 2015

    […] • Cody Franson will bring some offense to the Buffalo Sabres. [What’s Going On In Buffalo?] […]

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