What the heck happened to Cody Franson?

Franson talent #3- Picking a very nice color to dye his beard. (PHOTO- Jawandapuck.com)

I was sneaking on Twitter during my shift at work today, and saw this in my replies:

what can you tell me about Cody Franson? His pros and cons? And why you think he can’t crack #Leafs lineup?

Sent from @TheWrage, fellow FanSided.com blogger for the Rangers, better known as James Wrabel.

In short, there’s a lot to be said about the man affectionately known as “Fruit Cup”, and none of it is personal. Let’s just say David Poile doesn’t look that stupid now for swapping Lombardi and Franson for Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney (who?).

My biggest criticism of Franson was that he played soft. He’s a BIG DUDE. Bigger than Shea. How many times did he use his size effectively? I can only recall of one time (sure there are others) when he got fed up and shoved a smaller Blackhawks player to the ice. This move inspired the team, and the Preds scored on their next shift going on to tie the game in the 3rd and win it in the shootout. I remember it well because it didn’t happen much.

His lack of physical nature and being a human battering ram on the boards was due to his less-than-average mobility. That pairing with Shane O’Brien was terrible at times, and other times O’Brien just held or tripped the guy. His stats looked OK, largely due to Barry Trotz and his wizardry of line matching and timely changes. Remember his +/- rating his first year? It was nuts.

Franson does have some good points. His wrister from distance is really something special. He’s such a strong guy that he can generate enough velocity with next to little motion. And for kicks, he can go Bobby Orr at times. (Dan Ellis would agree)

The perception of Franson changed mightily after the arrival of Jonathan Blum from Milwaukee. Blum was plugged into the second pair and has never truly looked back. He’s not perfect, but he’s younger, smarter, and excels where Franson cannot. Blum has even picked up his ability to take the body more this season, just needs to deploy it at better times or not at all in other situations. What you’re seeing now is a player expected to perform at a high level like other defensemen who have left Nashville (Hamhuis, Skrastins, Zidlicky, Timmonen, etc), and he wasn’t near their level yet.

As far as Franson and his future in Toronto (seriously, only Montreal would’ve been a worse place for him to land) goes, he will need a smaller speedy partner to compliment his game or he will struggle until being waived or traded. He does have talent, and he’s still young. However, he was rushed to the league a bit earlier than planned so he never got the chance Blum had to develop even further in the AHL.

Given how bad Jack Hillen has looked at times, there is some talk among the internet wiseguys of Poile picking him up IF he’s waived… but seeing how he was traded I’m not sure how much more talent the Trotz system can unearth from the mines of Franson’s potential. And that should tell you all you need to know. Good kid, fun personality, and useful on the power play… but not someone you want matched up against premier forwards.

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