You don't normally add top-four defensemen in free agency a week before training camp starts. But with teams tight to the cap and the Canadian dollar dropping, the Sabres took advantage of an odd situation in the NHL as we approach the fall by officially wrapping up Cody Franson on a two-year deal today.
"It's been a long summer. Things changed a little bit in free agency," Franson said today in First Niagara Center. "We just tried to roll with the punches as best we could. I'm very happy to be here in Buffalo. ... It's an organization going in the right direction and it made my decision very easy to want to be a part of that."
Franson's deal is for $6.65 million with a cap hit of $3.325 million. According to Sportsnet, Franson will make $3 million this year with a $1 million signing bonus. He gets $2 million in salary and a $650,000 bonus in 2016-17. After three straight one-year deals, Franson was looking for something long term but the market dried up and his late-season struggles in Nashville depressed his value.
The Sabres were the only real multi-year deal he got.
"There was some intriguing stuff out there," said Franson, who spoke to several teams, with Boston and Pittsburgh believed to be the frontrunners. "But I've been on one-year contracts for a few years now so I'm fortunate to get a two-year deal."
Franson has played 400 career NHL games with Toronto and Nashville and is coming off a career-high 36-point season. He easily projects as a top-4 defenseman in the Buffalo rotation and should be a mainstay on the team's top power play unit.
"I'm obviously happy to get him," said General Manager Tim Murray. "I was exploring all avenues in getting a defenseman that can help us. It's been about 75 days of getting to intimately know his agent, talking to him and texting every day. It started in early July and we got to a point where we were comfortable here.
"He's a skill defenseman, obviously a big body. We know he's not a crasher and banger and that's not what we signed him for. But he's got some range, he's got a long reach. It does take some space to get by him."