The Chicago Blackhawks have signed free agent Cody Franson to a professional tryout contract, per a report from Dhiren Mahiban. Mahiban’s report also indicated that the former Buffalo Sabres defenseman did in fact passed on one-year deals offered by other teams in favor of the PTO with Chicago. Other teams rumored to have been after Franson’s services were the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks.
As of yesterday, reports circulated that Franson was down to two teams, those teams being Chicago and Edmonton.
Franson doesn’t just bring a new face and four 29-plus point seasons into the organization. The Blackhawks enter training camp in somewhat uncharted waters, with the defense corps looking much different than last year with the departure of Niklas Hjalmmarson, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Johnny Oduya and the retirement of Brian Campbell. Franson is a right-handed defenseman, which would lock him in smoothly behind Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy. While the Hawks did have options in Ville Pokka, Jan Rutta and Michal Rozsival, the first two are still pretty green in the ears, while Rozsival is still reportedly suffering from some post-concussion issues from last season, courtesy of a sucker punch from dirty goon Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie. Franson also brings size to the third pairing, coming in at 6’5 and 224 pounds and decent possession numbers, posting a Corsi rating of 50.8% last season with the Sabres, which means that his numbers are in the black. He also played 31% of his 5×5 minutes last season against the opposing team’s top lines. He can also be a reasonably good option in the power play, earning 1.22 points/game in the PP for the Sabres last year.
Overall, I think Franson will turn out to be a good acquisition by the Blackhawks. With the team banking on the kids (Pokka, Rutta, Erik Gustafsson, Gustav Forsling) to earn their spots in the roster, a steady, veteran presence like Franson can be just what this team needs right now.