Cody Franson, Maple Leafs finally reach deal for one year, $2 million

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Franson tallied four goals and 25 assists last season in 45 games. (USATSI)
Franson tallied four goals and 25 assists last season in 45 games. (USATSI)

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Negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Cody Franson took a big swing for the better on Thursday morning and a deal was finally reached to get the restricted free agent back under contract.

The deal according to Darren Dreger is a bit of a surprise: One year and just $2 million. Just like that, the Leafs have everybody inked for the season.

Both the term and the money are surprising, but it's clear each had to give in something to get a deal done. Franson is taking well below market value at just $2 million. He understandably was looking for something around $3 million. Considering he was one of the best point-producing defensemen in the league last season, it wasn't outlandish. But with their cap situation, the Leafs weren't in a position to be able to do that. The $2 million is actually less than what the Leafs had reportedly offered per season over a two-year term.

On the other side of things is the term. The Leafs were looking for a two-year contract as to avoid salary arbitration rights going to Franson next year but Franson didn't want to take anything longer than a year, which makes sense when he's already being underpaid. So in the end they each give in a lot to get something done.

In the end it's a pretty excellent job by general manager Dave Nonis to get all of his players signed. I had very serious doubts it could be done when both Franson and Nazem Kadri remained unsigned but he was able to get both players in at team-friendly prices to become cap compliant. Barely. Of course it was Nonis who put himself in a pinch from the start so let's hold off on the pats on the back.

Now if you think this summer was tough for Nonis to get the roster put together, just wait until next summer. Phil Kessel, Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McClement, Mason Raymond, Trevor Smith, Dion Phaneuf, Mark Fraser, Paul Ranger and yes Franson are all slated to be unrestricted free agents at this point while Jake Gardiner, James Reimer and Joe Colborne will be restricted free agents. They already have more than $34 million in cap space committed to next year according to CapGeek so that's going to be awfully tough to make it work if they want all those guys back. Between Kessel, Phaneuf, Gardiner and Reimer alone you're talking about massive money if they are to stay in Toronto. Add in Franson who will be due a big bump and you're talking $25 million-$30 million between them would be my guess. Look at the rest and you can see it's tough to imagine there won't be some changes coming.

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