Less than a week before training camp, the Sabres went out and added a defenseman to bolster their blue line. They signed free agent Cody Franson to a multi-year deal worth an average of $3.325 million per season.
The 28-year old Franson spent the past season with the Maple Leafs and Predators totaling 36 points (7-29-36) in 78 contests. After playing with Toronto for almost four years, the veteran was reacquired by Nashville at the trade deadline. However, he struggled in his return posting just a goal and three assists in 23 games. Franson tallied two assists in a first round defeat to the Blackhawks.
Perhaps his late season slump scared off potential suitors. A right-handed shot who can provide offense, Franson slides in on Buffalo’s second pairing. He’ll likely play with either Josh Gorges or Rasmus Ristolainen. A solid skating D who has been lauded for his possession numbers, he brings needed experience to the Sabres. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs with lower expectations on a rebuilding team.
Buffalo’s top four on the back end projects as Zach Bogosian, Gorges, Ristolainen and Franson. That leaves Mike Weber, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mark Pysyk and former Islander Matt Donovan for the final three spots including seventh D.
The Sabres should be more exciting with top pick Jack Eichel set to debut. With key additions Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly, there’s hope. 2014 first round pick Sam Reinhart should also be ready. It should be a fun season in Western New York.