Today we get to take a bit of a different look at a member of the Top 25 Under 25.
Up until now, we've been talking about mostly raw, still developing prospects and young pros. The players that have made up spots 8 through 25 in our countdown are all still working towards the eventual goal of becoming an NHL player, so a lot of the discussion is in terms of where they are right now, where they could end up and what they need to do to get there.
Cody Franson is already there. He's an NHL defenceman with 3 seasons and 198 games in the NHL under his belt.
Franson has actually already turned 25, but his birthday fell after the age cutoff date of June 30. So for our purposes he is still considered "Under 25". Thus, this is Franson's last appearance on the list before he graduates, and he does so by retaining his position at #7.
#4 / Defenseman / Toronto Maple Leafs
Aug 08, 1987
The consecutive appearances of Franson and Rielly pretty clearly illustrate some of the dilemmas we faced when compiling this list. How do you give a proper representation of the rankings of the organization's under 25 players when one is days away from his 25th birthday, having played three full season and establishing himself as a third-pairing defender and one guy is only a few months removed from being able to vote, and years away from being ready to handle a full-time workload in the NHL?
We weigh age, experience, potential and our own projections when coming up with our list, and because of this formula you see a lot of different ideas as to where certain players rank compared to the next person's list.
|Prior Rank||JP Nikota||PPP||Chemmy||SkinnyFish||birky||Plea From A Cat Named Felix||clrkaitken||Rank|
For Franson, our opinions were relatively unchanged. Not only did he retain his #7 ranking but he also accumulated the exact same number of points as last time (166), meaning that if somebody did move him up in the list, somebody else moved him down to compensate. Franson did gain ground on the #6 ranking; in the winter he was 11 points behind that countdown's #6 entry Nazem Kadri. This time Franson was just 4 points away from #6, as our countdown was much tighter throughout various segments; as a group we felt there was a lot less separating certain groups of players than last time around.
One of the few people to drop Franson in their rankings was Plea From A Cat Named Felix, who dropped him slightly from 8 to 9.
Let's get one thing straight, Cody Franson is an NHL defenseman.
Having said that there are a few reasons why I bumped him down a
couple notches. 1. He just turned 25 this August, so while technically
being under 25 for the purposes of this study he is no longer that.
Which is fine and everything, I had no issue ranking almost 25 year
old Phil Kessel higher on my list because he's the best player on this
team. Cody Franson is not, so he slipped a little bit in the rankings
as he won't be around next time. Aside from that I felt that a few
players the Leafs had added since the trade deadline supplanted him on
this list. So that's why he fell.
I ranked him 9th because I feel that he provides a valuable skill-set
to the Leafs. He can skate well enough, has a good first pass, and a
pretty decent shot. A lot of the time you don't notice him out there
which is a good thing. Earlier in the year he was stuck behind
Phaneuf, Liles, and Gardiner so he saw less PP time as a result. For
whatever reason both Wilson and Carlyle seemed hesitant to use him,
maybe they were trying to increased Luke Schenn's trade value. Either
way I see a spot for him on the current blueline, although guys like
Blacker and Holzer will be competing for that spot on the 3rd pairing.
I look forward to seeing what Franson can do with more ice-time and
responsibility next season.
Most people were perfectly happy with their rankings of Franson, and didn't change it at all (4 people in total did not change their ranking of Franson from the winter). One such person was SkinnyFish, who held Franson steady at #7.
The biggest question when evaluating prospects is "What do I think they'll be able to at the NHL level?" With Cody Franson, I already know. He's an offensively talented defensive with a booming shot and good size, and his development on the Leafs has been an absolute joke. Franson should have been on the bottom pairing and 2nd PP unit all season long and surpassed his 29pt season from the year before in Nashville. On a ppg basis, he did just that, netting 5goals with his big shot and 16 assists for 21 pts in only 56 game played. That's a 9 goal, 31 pt 82 game season. Instead, he found himself keeping Komisarek's pressbox seat warm for over a third of the season, and playing a measly 1:31 of PP time a night while the concussed and terrible JML got over 3:30. Everyone fawns over Jake Gardiner for scoring 30pts his rookie season, and yet nobody gives Franson any credit for doing the same in 5 less minutes of icetime a night; least of all Brian Burke who has yet to re-sign the 2nd best defensive "prospect" on the team. I simply do not understand this.