Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Leafs buy Cody Franson for $7 million

This deal would have been a salary dump if Matthew Lombardi could still play hockey but his future is very much in doubt. Lombardi played only 2 games last season and has spent the past 9 months recovering from a concussion. He intends on attending Leafs training camp in the fall but that may be largely wishful thinking.

No this is a straight out purchase of Cody Franson who will be a top 4 defenseman for the Leafs for $7,000,000 which is what is remaining on Lombardi's contract. Sure they are players going the other way (Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney) but they are just throw-ins to keep the NHL head office types from sniffing around. I doubt Nashville was looking to trade Franson and would never have agreed to Lebda and Slaney for just Franson.

This is just another example of how big market teams have an advantage over smaller market franchises. Although Brian Burke does not like the long-term, front-loaded contracts handed out by the other big market teams, he has no problem scooping up problem contracts if the other team throws in some good young talent.

When Burke dealt Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim he was after young defense prospect Jake Gardiner but to make the deal happen he had to agree to take on the contract of Joffrey Lupul. Lupul is not a bad player but has had health problems and has a hefty contract. As it turns out Lupul was able to stay healthy right to the end of the season and regained his scoring touch. Perhaps Lombardi can recover too in which case the Leafs have themselves another decent centre and finally some depth at that position but no one is counting on that.

For Nahsville the deal is one that they had to swallow. Although Lombardi while on their long term injury list would not count against their salary cap, it was a cash flow issue. For teams will little or no profitability it is hard to justify paying a player who cannot play. The Rangers will continue to Wade Redden's salary while he plays in the AHL but that's fine as along as he doesn't take up valuable cap space. So the Predators had to move a good young defenseman to help their bottom line.

That's today's NHL.

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