Red Wings Trade Talk: Is Cody Franson the Missing Piece?

We are about a month away from the trade deadline, so the main talking points for the next 30-ish days will be speculation about who is going to end up where.

For months, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson has been linked to the Detroit Red Wings, as well as a number of other teams.

Franson is the right-handed defenseman the Red Wings have been searching for, but is he the right fit for Detroit?

I asked The Hockey Writers Maple Leafs contributor James Tanner what he thought of Franson as a player.

What does a Maple Leafs Writer Think?

Q: What are Franson’s strengths?

James Tanner: Franson is extremely valuable, because he’s a puck moving defensemen with size, and he shoots right-handed, which is rare enough to be coveted. He’s an intelligent player, and while you wish he would hit more due to his size, he really doesn’t need to do that to be effective. Franson’s reputation suggests a big guy who isn’t physical, but I think he actually does hit quite a bit, he just isn’t a Chara out there, and with the size, that’s what people expect. Also, he has a rocket of a shot and is a good skater — probably faster than he appears to be due to his size.

Q: What are Franson’s weaknesses?

JT: There really isn’t anything I dislike about his game, he could be an ideal partner to a true, elite No. 1 D-man or an elite second pairing guy himself.

Q: Do you want the Maple Leafs to trade Franson?

JT: I think that the Leafs in a perfect world should not trade him, but he is a UFA, and they’re kind of up against the cap. And, due to the obvious need to retool or rebuild, it makes some sense to get an asset. However, I can’t stress this enough, they should be trying to re-sign him and move out other players.

Q: What do you think the Maple Leafs could get for Franson?

JT: Since he’s a UFA, I can’t see him bringing back more than a second rounder. However, teams have been known to overpay for a defenseman at the deadline. If he was signed, I would think it would cost a ton to get him.

What Should the Red Wings Do?

Tanner is very high on Franson, and the 27-year-old appears to be the perfect right-handed shooting defenseman the Red Wings need. He’s got size at 6-foot-5 (the biggest Red Wings defenseman is Jonathan Ericsson at 6-4), speed, a powerful shot and the potential to be a No. 1 defensman.

The screenshot from War On Ice below shows Franson is second on the team in quality of competition faced and has a high Corsi For percentage relative to the rest of the team while playing a high number of minutes.

Red Wings

The problem, as I’ve stated numerous times before, is that the Red Wings are going to have to give up a lot to get Franson. Tanner suggests the Maple Leafs won’t get more than a second rounder, but I think Toronto will want at least a roster player like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco and a first-round pick.

For Franson, I’d be tempted to trade Jurco and a first-round pick. I think Jurco still has the capabilities of being a very good player, but he hasn’t developed as much as Nyquist or Tatar have.

Toronto might even get greedy — Tanner suggests teams tend to overpay for a defenseman at the deadline — and ask for a prospect like Teemu Pulkkinen, Dylan Larkin or Anthony Mantha in addition to a draft pick and a roster player. All of the previously mentioned prospects are players I wouldn’t trade if I were general manager Ken Holland, and I believe he feels the same.

In the end, the price has to be right for Franson, whether the Red Wings can get that price will decide whether they should pull the trigger or stand pat.

What do you think? Should the Red Wings make a move for Franson, should they pursue someone else or stand pat?

Be sure to check out James Tanner’s work on The Hockey Writers.

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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos. 

27 thoughts on “Red Wings Trade Talk: Is Cody Franson the Missing Piece?”

  1. Franson is no one’s missing piece, and from recent conversations I find it hard to believe any of the fans in Toronto would care if he goes. As a Detroit fan I sincerely hope the Wings do not give up anything valuable, or consider him to be a “must-have” player.

  2. “I think Jurco still has the capabilities of being a very good player, but he hasn’t developed as much as Nyquist or Tatar have.”

    Jurco’s younger than Nyquist and Tatar, and he didn’t spend nearly as much development time in Grand Rapids as they did. He’s a great possession player, gives us size and physicality up front. The scoring will come with time and confidence.

    All of which is to say: no way in hell do I move him for Franson. I like Franson, and I think he might possibly be The Missing Piece, but I’m not giving Toronto Jurco and a 1st for a player we probably won’t be able to keep in the summer. That would be madness. And I say that as someone who really, really, really wants Holland to make a trade.

    • “I think Jurco still has the capabilities of being a very good player, but he hasn’t developed as much as Nyquist or Tatar have.”———–Yea man that’s pretty much a mind boggling statement to make. The Euro twins are further along because they are 2-3 years older than him, so they have spent more time in GR, where as Jurco is kind of “developing” in Detroit…it’s not rocket science. At 22, you can even make an argument that Babs sees more in Jurco than he did in Tats and Gus at that age. Why else would Babs insist on keeping such a raw player in the lineup? Jurco is 2nd on the team in +/- right now, so while he’s not racking up points he is doing something right. Like Pal said the scoring will come with time and confidence, so let’s give him a few years before we can say he hasn’t developed as much as Ny-n-Ta. In fact I would be shocked if Jurco wasn’t putting up the points by the time he’s Tats and Ny’s age. Jurco is going to be a great 2 way player for us for a long, long time. And guys let’s not even entertain the thought of Jurco and a 1st for Franson. Seriously, there is NOBODY in our organization stupid enough to make that deal. A 2nd rounder and XO is the most they will get out of us for Franson.

  3. Hey Tom. I can’t see anything ludicrous in your writing. It’s no secret the Wings are looking for a RH shooting top 4 D. I think most reasonably informed hockey fans would agree that Franson fits that description. Please keep writing about the Red Wings on this site.

    Being agreeable when disagreeing is, unfortunately, becoming a lost art.

  4. You really ought to stay away from trade talk. Last season you castigated Holland for not trading for Raphael Diaz, whom you first very wrongly referred to as a valuable, top-four-capable offensive defenseman and second, even more bizarrely, suggested could have been had for the likes of Mikael Samuelsson (whom NOBODY would have wanted). Where Franson is concerned, a whole lot of Leafs fans don’t like him, he’s not particularly good, and there is not the faintest chance in the universe that Franson would muster a first-round pick, yet alone a first-rounder AND a viable roster player. The idea that Toronto would even bother asking for the likes of Tatar or Nyquist is hilarious, as Nonis, though completely incompetent, isn’t foolish enough to believe that Franson is worth anywhere near either of them. Finally, the fact that you’d offer a first-round pick in a very deep draft PLUS a promising player like Jurco is ample evidence that you have zero understanding of player value, as Franson is worth neither, let alone both. This is particularly true given that he is a UFA and recently turned down a multi-year contract from the Leafs that, at $4.75m per year, was far more than he is worth. He’s a career bottom-pairing defenseman having a good season, and the fact that he’s a right-handed shooter no more makes him the missing piece for the Red Wings than does Alexei Marchenko for the same reason. For that matter, Marchenko’s value is itself probably greater than Franson’s.

    Stop writing about hockey, or at the very least, stop writing about trades you think the Wings should make. Your articles on the topic are painful to read.

    • First of all, I said Ken Holland missed out on an opportunity to get Diaz. I did not berate him. Would he have been a good addition? Sure, but the Red Wings have done well without him.

      Secondly, I never have said they could get anybody for Samuelsson, especially a straight up trade of Diaz for Samuelsson. In a perfect world, sure, it would have been nice to get something for Samuelsson, but waiving him was really the only option, because no one wanted him and due to his NTC.

      • I’m pretty sure you did. Though I can’t find the article, I’m fairly certain you mentioned the possibility of offering Cleary as well—you know, as if any team would have wanted him either, and discounting the fact that he’d have never waived his NTC. As for Diaz, he was, far from being of the offensive quality you claimed, worth squat; this was rather well indicated by the fact that he was traded twice in the span of a month, mustered only four points in the 21 games he played for the Rangers and Canucks, and played only four games in the former’s run to the finals (he’s been just as invisible this season as well). Combine this with his defensive ineptitude and lack of size, and he would have bumped nobody from the Wings’ lineup. You’d have known his low quality had you done your research.

        As for what you didn’t respond to, feel free to address your claims regarding Franson. He’s not anywhere near a premiere defenseman, and insiders seem to believe that he’d fetch a first-rounder at the absolute most—and this price has certainly dropped given his apparent contract demands—yet you believe that the Leafs would ask a first and a quality roster player for him (or even a 1st, such a player, and a quality prospect—ludicrous!), and you’d be willing to give them exactly that. It seems you’ve failed to do your research here as well, both on Franson (i.e. his quality and his situation) and on what his asking price will likely be.

        • Never said that about Cleary, either. I said in a perfect world, it would be nice to get rid of both of them in trades. But I understand that reality is different than a perfect world. Please don’t make false accusations about what I say in my articles.

          • You’ve continued to limit your replies to the least relevant segments of my posts. Consider addressing the actual hockey arguments, namely those relevant to the subject upon which you authored this article.

          • Alternatively, you could absolutely refuse to back up your journalistic assertions, and instead choose to respond only to those comments that do not call your claims into question.

            • I replied to a number of comments, actually. As far as addressing the argument, clearly, we disagree on Franson’s worth. A player’s worth is subjective. You can look at stats and make your opinions based on those stats, but each stat has a limitation. They don’t tell you the whole story. Everybody is going to have varying opinions on any random player. Sure, guys like Crosby and Toews will be held in high regard by everybody. But any other random player will be worth more or less to any random coach/GM/fan.

              You think Franson isn’t worth much, I think he would be a good addition. Are there better defensemen out there? Absolutely. Are there worse defensemen out there? Absolutely. I should also note I said I’d be tempted to trade him, and you act as if I’m selling off the entire team for Franson.

              FWIW,’s Ansar Khan, whose knowledge of the team and the game dwarfs mine, thinks the Red Wings could get Franson for at least a second-round pick and a young roster player or a prospect.

    • Anonymous you are 100% correct. As I read this article I was puzzled as to where the author got his information from. This is a very misinformed article about Franson and his talents and his worth.

  5. Another element of the decision for the Wings whether or not to add a top-4 blueline asset at the trade deadline is, what about our current D prospects? Oulette has shown he’s ready for regular minutes with the big club, and Marchenko is also currently making a case. We also have Sproul and Jensen in GR that are supposedly getting close. Looking ahead to training camp next year, competition for the 6-7 roster spots will be very interesting. Kindl is already an odd-man out, but who else? And how do you justify giving up a Jurco and a #1 pick and adding yet more blueline competition, when it appears the Wings are going to be stacked with young D talent in the very near future? Do we really think this is the year and we need to make a push? Could this be Pav’s final season? Are the D-prospects ready?

    • You’re right. They do have a lot of great defensive prospects in GR, and even a couple in Detroit with Ouellet and Marchenko. However, the window of winning with Pav and Z is closing. They are both in their mid-30s, Datsyuk is only signed through the 16-17 season, and he may opt to retire or go back to Russia. Z is signed through the 20-21 season, but will his back hold up until then? That’s not to say Nyquist and Tatar can’t eventually step into their places, but they are just starting their careers.

      Those D prospects could pan out, they could not. It may take them until 16-17 to finally mature, it could be longer. If they feel like a top-4 defenseman will put them over the top, then now is the time to strike. Prospects are great to stack up on, but if you stack too much, then you won’t have room for any of them, and that’s when you use them in trades.

      • So Tom your solution to the fact that Dats and Z are old is to mortgage our future and ensure that we will need a full on firesale rebuild at some point. I’m glad Ken Holland is in charge of the decisions here. If folks like you had been calling the shots we’d have traded Dats and Z in 2004 to do more “win now” moves in Yzerman’s last years.

  6. I wouldn’t think this would be a good trade, but the Wings are #2 in the east at the moment and poised to make some noise in the postseason and they need some quality blue line help. In a cap league, you have to take calculated risks to bring home a championship. They have the cap room and Franson would be a good long-term signing.

    I’d rather trade for a known commodity than hang on to hope of a future payoff, especially when some of the wings’ prospects are paying off as it is. I mean, how much longer can you wait? Tatar and Nyquist are paying off but where will they be when/if Jurco figures it out? Will they have bolted via FA? Will they drop off? Who knows?

    At some point, it’s time to stop waiting around. I say go for it!

  7. Why would the Wings give up major assets for a two month rental player? That’s a stupid move that desperate teams do. Do you really think Cody Franson is the missing piece to the Wings wining the cup?

    • Like 3ghostninja alludes to, if they did sign Franson, it would be in the hopes of re-signing him after the season is over. I agree, it would be a bad move just to sign him as a rental.

  8. You cover the Red Wings and “would be tempted to trade Jurco and a first-rounder” for Franson…? Based on the belief that Jurco “hasn’t developed as much as Nyqvist or Tatar”? Are you aware that Jurco was drafted three years AFTER Nyqvist?? How exactly is Jurco supposed to become more effective than Nyqvist when he’s younger and was drafted three years after his teammate?

    Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the Red Wings are one of the most patient (if not, THE most patient) organization in the league. Prospects spend suitable amounts of time in major junior or in Grand Rapids so they can be properly evaluated. Jurco is down the depth chart right now because Tatar is an absolute stud and is progressing extremely well. He hasn’t been awarded the same ice-time that his teammates on either wing have. Jurco’s time will come where he’s given the opportunity to prove his stuff as a potential top-six winger. There’s no way in hell that a pending top-four defender like Franson is worth a package like Jurco and a first-rounder.

    The Red Wings are more likely to trade for a guy like Myers who is comparable in size, although consistency with him has been a challenge compared to Franson. Myers is signed long-term and it’s likely that his career could be improved (greatly) by an acquisition to Detroit. Your articles would gain a lot more credibility if they took into account the immense value Ken Holland and his staff place on developing their younger guys the right way and how the Red Wings don’t panic at any time. Maybe also consider their excellent standing in the East right now and the fact that asking Tanner for an objective opinion regarding any Leaf players isn’t really possible.

    • Older players are not necessarily better than younger players or are more developed than younger players. Mitch Callahan and Landon Ferraro both were drafted two years before Jurco, but Jurco is in Detroit and the other two still are in Grand Rapids. Callahan and Ferraro haven’t developed as well as Tatar, Nyquist, Jurco or even Pulkkinen.

      I’m not saying there isn’t any hope for Jurco, he has a lot of skill, but it’s raw skill and he hasn’t developed his game as well as Nyquist or Tatar. Of those three, I’d rather lose Jurco, but he also has a lot of potential.

      As far as Myers goes, I’m not sure the Red Wings are willing to give up what Buffalo wants for him. They want a roster player like Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco, a prospect like Mantha, Pulkkinen or Larkin and a pick. To me, that’s way too much for a defenseman who has yet to develop into the type of player he was projected to be.

      As for Tanner’s views on Franson, I trust him because he watches Franson every game, whereas I only see Franson when they play Detroit. His view of him outweighs mine because he has more experience watching him.

      • I don’t see any way in which the Red Wings would deal a player like Jurco AND a first-rounder for Franson. Massive overpayment for a guy who has never exceeded 33 points in a season. He might have been “overshadowed” somewhat with the Preds by the likes of Weber and Josi, but Franson has been given the opportunity to flourish with the Leafs and he simply hasn’t.
        I bet the Wings would love to get him to boost what should be a deep run in the playoffs, but there’s no guarantee he re-signs in Detroit, and to a team like the Red Wings, dealing away their younger players or prospects who very likely haven’t peaked yet is something that I just cannot see happening. I could see the Wings agreeing to deal a second-rounder and a mid/lower-end prospect for a rental like Franson, but I’m sure they’d still want it to be a conditional pick in some respect.
        I watch Franson too and can tell you that while he’ll likely be in demand come trade deadline (or before), I would bet that the Red Wings stay away barring a long slide down in the standings for the next month. He’s a decent puck-mover, but he’s not a PP QB and I don’t even know if I’d consider him much of an upgrade over DeKeyser at this point. Worth pointing out that DeKeyser and Smith have both performed better defensively compared to Franson as well.
        The Leafs could ASK for the likes of Nyqvist/Tatar/Jurco/Mantha/1st-rounder, but the Wings won’t mortgage a component of their future to get a handful of games from a decent top-four defender when they’re playing so well without him.

        • Edit: Should also add that watching a certain player/team doesn’t translate into being able to provide a relatively objective view. I won’t name names (I’m not referring to you), but some writers on here tend to severely (and ridiculously) overvalue players/teams that they watch and rely on questionable “evidence” to try proving their outlandish theories and arguments. For some, I think it’s impossible to separate being a homeristic fan from being able to provide a somewhat impartial viewpoint.

          • See, here’s the thing: the fellow he interviewed rightly stated that an unsigned Franson (as he is currently) would likely muster a second-round pick. This seems accurate; he’d probably garner a late 1st at the absolute most. It was the author of this article who chose to massively inflate Franson’s value despite an ignorance of said player’s actual quality and worth.

        • I don’t see any way in which the Red Wings would deal a player like Jurco AND a first-rounder for Franson.——-Don’t worry man, we have nobody in our organization that stupid to even consider sending Jurco and a first to Toronto for Franson.

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