NY Islanders News

Cody Franson can add more than size to Islanders defense

By Joe Pantorno

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been quiet on the Cody Franson front for a few days now. The defenseman has expressed his desire to sign a one-year extension with the Maple Leafs.

The deal is not happening any time soon. Toronto offered the 26-year old a two-year deal and either side is not budging at the moment. The Maple Leafs are pushing for a multi-year deal to limit the number of unrestricted free agents come next off-season  They’ll have eight already in 2014 including their captain, Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel.

The longer this deal stalls, the more likely Franson signs with someone else; and the Islanders could use a standout defenseman entering the prime of his career. Well, the Islanders could use another defenseman, period.

There are plenty of options listed on the roster, and it seems that there is depth, but the tip that the team was not completely satisfied with its defense was when they brought in Radek Martinek for a tryout last week.

While the Islanders have plenty of young, talented defensemen on the rise with the likes of Travis Hamonic fresh off signing a seven-year deal, along with Griffin Reinhart, Matt Donavan and Calvin De Haan competing to make the squad, someone like Franson can team up with Andrew MacDonald and Lubomir Visnovsky to help develop this defense into one of the better units in the league.

At 6’5”, 213, Franson also can bring muscle to a backline that see its better defenseman play a more finesse, offensive-minded brand. Franson can put up 20-25 points a season, but he’s the kind of player that knows his role as someone to deliver a big hit and break up the play.

With the progress Hamonic and MacDonald have made together as a first pairing, Franson could be put on a second unit and help eliminate some fringe defenseman like Matt Carkner and Joe Finley.

While there is a decent possibility the likes of Reinhart and De Haan do not make the team this year, this will open the door for the possibility of a call-up sooner than later. Pairing the youngsters with someone like Franson is a lot better of an option than what the team might have to offer if they don’t pursue him.