What should Franson be awarded in arbitration?

When Cody Franson goes before the arbitrator on Monday as scheduled, he’ll be looking to earn a paycheque comparable with other NHL blueliners with similar offensive numbers. Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) of Hockey Night in Canada reported that Franson is seeking $4.2 million while the Leafs have countered with $2 million, less than half of that amount.

If the point totals produced by Franson were enough to quantify his net value to the team, his salary demands would be reasonable. The Leafs leading defenceman in points (33) last year, the 26-year-old rearguard is 20th in NHL scoring from the blueline over the past two seasons (source: @mirtle).

However, for every great play that Franson used his shot or his vision, or both, to boost the Leafs power-play in racking up 18 points on the man advantage last year, he was the goat on a goal by the opposition. More often than not, he was guilty of bad reads in the neutral zone and wound up being victimized on an odd-man rush. Using the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day as a point of reference – a game in which Franson’s indecision in no-man’s land led to a goal by Detroit’s Daniel Alfredsson – Franson seemed to have one of those brain cramps every game, from that point onward.

With turnovers galore, and with a habit of being caught flat-footed while trying to prevent a rush, Franson poses as much of a liability preventing goals as much as he is an asset in scoring them.

As part of Collective Bargaining 101, the Leafs have come in with a low-ball initial offer. Franson does deserve at least a raise from his 2013-14 salary. However if a quick resolution is to arise, then the Franson camp does have to budge from its original stance.

A figure of $3 to $3.5 million is equitable for a player who shows offensive flair, on the shifts when opponents aren’t breezing past him.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca

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