One thing is certain. There is never an uninteresting moment around the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Febuary 15, the Maple Leafs traded Cody Franson, along with Mike Santorelli, to the Nashville Predators in exchange for the Predators’ 2015 first-round pick, Brendan Leipsic and Olli Jokinen. Franson made it no mistake that he wanted to stay in Toronto.
In an interview with TSN 1050 (via nhl.com), he thinks that the Leafs hiring Mike Babcock might make a few other free agents think about coming to Toronto.
“I definitely think it makes [Toronto] more interesting… Definitely, with Mr. Babcock going there, it’s an exciting time for people in that organization and I think it makes it more intriguing to free agents for sure.”
Of course, when asked about whether or not he would come back to Toronto, the answer was easy to predict.
“One hundred percent; I’ve always said that I loved it in Toronto… I’m hopeful that Toronto’s in the mix come July 1 and my phone will definitely be on and hoping that they’re one of the teams that calls.”
Now, Franson might want to come back to Toronto, but I really don’t see the Leafs being interested in bringing him back. The Leafs are going to be a rebuilding team. Franson really doesn’t have a place on a rebuilding team, at least not with the Leafs. Toronto will probably be giving young defensemen like Stuart Percy, Petter Granberg and Andrew MacWilliam a chance to stick around for the full season next year. If Dion Phaneuf is traded, the Leafs will still have Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak under contract, to go along with Tim Erixon, a restricted free agent on July 1. Not that much room for Franson to come back.
As for his claim that other free agents will want to come to Toronto in order to be coached by Babcock, it’s really the same situation. If the Leafs go after anyone in free agency, they will probably be veterans that come cheaply and can mentor young players. If the Leafs are serious about rebuilding, and all the signs point to that being the case, then the top free agents should not even interest them.
A few seasons from now though, that will not be the case. As the Leafs get closer to contention, the Leafs will be looking for the finishing touches on their work. If the Leafs are a wanted destination then, it would be great for them. For now though, it’s just implausible.