For the past few months, the Buffalo Sabres have been looking to sign one more solid defenseman to solidify their top six, and according to one of the most reliable insiders in the business, it appears they've finally done just that.
TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting that free agent defenseman Cody Franson is currently in Buffalo, and is expected to sign a two year contract with the Sabres worth $6.6 million.
UFA D Cody Franson is currently in BUF and expected to finalize on Thursday a two-year contract. AAV is expected to be around $3.3M.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 10, 2015
Franson was one of the biggest names among defenseman heading in to free agency, but curiously has remained unsigned for the past two months. The 28-year old blueliner had seven goals and 29 assists, splitting time between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators last season.
It was Franson's time in Nashville that likely scared off potential suitors, as he put up just four points in 23 games after posting 32 points in 55 games for the far inferior Maple Leafs, and those who dream of him as a #1 guy probably need to relax. However, he still is an above average middle pairing defenseman who can help teams for the right price, which I believe the Sabres got, and Ryan Lambert from Puck Daddy agrees:
Whoever does end up signing him might want to consider the benefits of locking him up for three or four years at whatever reasonable dollar figure they can make work. If he's willing to give up AAV for term, they'd be locking in a mega-bargain middle-pairing defenseman. Anything in the neighborhood of $3.5 million would be a steal.
Despite being right-handed on a team in need of lefties, Buffalo's newest acquisition should be among the team's top four defenseman thanks to his above average offensive skills, and will likely be the man (along with Rasmus Ristolainen) to help lead one of Buffalo's power play units. He isn't the strongest skater and is just okay in his own zone, but Franson will help add some offensive punch to a Sabres blue line that was looking to be a bit too skewed toward the defensive side of things.
With the acquisition of Franson, the Sabres roster inches ever closer towards not only being respectable but feared by their opponents. Let us know what you think of Buffalo's final free agent in the comments.
UPDATE: The team has officially announced the signing.