Cody Franson says he’s waiting on right fit, sick of one-year deals

Cody Franson. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you were wondering what has taken so long for defenseman Cody Franson to sign a new contract, you’re not alone. Franson himself seems to be getting impatient.

In an interview with TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Franson opened an interview with questions about his contract and when hosts Matt Sekeres and Jeff Paterson remark that they thought Franson would have a contract by now, the unrestricted free agent blueliner said they weren’t the only ones.

“You and me both,” remarked Franson. Read more

Carter Ashton signs in KHL following 2014-15 season that saw trade, suspension

Jared Clinton
Toronto Maple Leafs v Arizona Coyotes

When he looks back on his career, Carter Ashton will probably consider the 2014-15 campaign one of the most difficult of his career, but he’s ready to start a new chapter in the KHL.

The KHL’s Torpedo Nizhy Novgorod announced Tuesday they have signed the 24-year-old winger to a contract for the upcoming campaign. This past season, Ashton got only a brief taste of the NHL, suiting up for seven games and failing to register a point. Over his NHL career, he has played in 54 contests, netting three assists and 32 penalty minutes.

A first-round selection, 29th overall, of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009, Ashton’s game never quite found its way in the NHL. During his first season in the professional ranks, which came in 2011-12, Ashton was shipped off to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Keith Aulie. In Toronto, Ashton would get his first taste of NHL action and he played nearly half a season – 32 games – with the big club in 2013-14.

What grabbed Ashton headlines, however, wasn’t his play, but a 20-game suspension for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. Ashton tested positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance, which he said was the result of using an inhaler he was given by a player he had trained with. Read more

The two most important Erie Otters ever are leaving this summer

Connor McDavid (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)

Everything seemed to revolve around the Erie Otters this season, from top draft prospect Connor McDavid and OHL scoring champion Dylan Strome to the legal drama between the junior franchise and the Edmonton Oilers.

With the sale of the Otters to Canadian businessman James Waters, a brand-new chapter will begin in Pennsylvania and it will come with its own challenges. Specifically, who will not be returning to the franchise.

Read more

10 players facing make or break seasons in 2015-16

Justin Schultz  (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers avoided arbitration with Justin Schultz Wednesday by inking the 25-year-old blueliner to a one-year, $3.9 million deal. But the arbitration wasn’t Schultz’s choice. Rather, it was the Oilers who wanted to plead their case for a lower cost on Schultz’s contract.

However, by opting for team-elected arbitration – which, as mentioned, has now been avoided with the one-year contract – Edmonton was essentially giving Schultz an ultimatum: if he wants to keep his spot in the Oilers lineup for what he believes to be fair value, he’s going to have to prove that he’s worth it. Thus, the one-year deal.

Schultz isn’t the only restricted free agent signed to a one-year contract and he’s not the only player who can, as Mike Babcock put it with regards to Nazem Kadri, “put the screws,” to his club. On the flip side, though, one bad year could see some franchises giving up on their young guns.

Here are 10 players who could have make-or-break seasons in 2014-15: Read more

Kadri “dedicating his life” to fitness as biggest season of his career approaches

Jared Clinton
Nazem Kadri (Graig Abel/Getty Images)

It was the box jump heard ‘round Leafs Nation: Nazem Kadri, on one foot, leaping from the ground to the top of a 31-inch platform, posted to Instagram for the world to see.

After years of questions about his physical conditioning and an up-and-down 2014-15 season, Kadri is out to prove that he can be a star in the NHL. No one has ever doubted his on-ice ability, but off-ice there has been some concern. That said, there will be considerably fewer concerns after watching Kadri hop to the top of a 2.5-foot-plus box with one leg.

And that’s the Kadri the Toronto Maple Leafs want to see, the one putting in the work this summer to become a true, first-line center in the NHL. In order to become that, Kadri has enlisted in the help of Spero Mantzavrakos, a veteran trainer that has worked with the likes of Corey Perry and Jeff Carter. And Mantzavrakos said we’re about to see a new Nazem Kadri. Read more

Which teams have had the best and worst off-seasons according to the numbers?

Jack Eichel (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly two weeks since free agency opened and most of the big fish have landed, which means it’s time to evaluate the winners and losers of free agency. There’s still some great players out there that can help teams, but the bulk of signings have already been made so right now is a perfect time to see how each team has done so far.

Usually, grading a team’s offseason in July is a fool’s errand because a lot of things will change during the season, but with recent advances in hockey analytics, it’s possible to get a reasonable estimation. Just like our post before free agency began, we used wins above replacement from war-on-ice.com over the last three seasons to project what a player will do next season. Using our off-season movement tracker, we looked at who’s in and who’s out for each team and added up their WAR totals to get wins added (or lost) from this offseason.

Of course, wins aren’t everything in the offseason, especially in a salary cap league. The value of the wins added is important too. With that in mind, here’s all 30 teams’ wins added compared to how much salary they added. Above the red line means a team got less for their money, while below means teams got more. (Keep in mind that WAR is generally skewed towards forwards and goalies so a team that added a big-time D-man, like Calgary, won’t look as great as they should here). Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks still looking to clear salary after Sharp trade

Chicago Blackhawk Bryan Bickell

The Chicago Blackhawks made their much-anticipated trade of left winger Patrick Sharp on Friday, shipping him and prospect defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Trevor Daley and left winger Ryan Garbutt.

While the Blackhawks cleared Sharp’s $5.9-million annual cap hit from their books, they’re not out of cap hell yet. They took on Daley’s $3.3-million cap hit over the next two seasons, along with half of Garbutt’s $1.8-million cap hit through 2016-17. That puts the Hawks under the $71.4 million salary cap by less than $1 million.

The addition of Daley suggests the Blackhawks won’t be bringing back unrestricted free agent rearguard Johnny Oduya. CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers reports GM Stan Bowman isn’t ruling it out, claiming the situation remains fluid and “there are a lot of factors at play.” Read more

How would life be different for the Maple Leafs and Bruins had Toronto won Game 7?

Ryan Kennedy
The Boston Bruins celebrate their Game 7 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

With 3:35 left in Game 7, Matt Frattin had a chance to bury the Bruins. Taking advantage of a fumbling Dougie Hamilton, Frattin stripped the Boston defenseman at the Toronto blueline and charged up the ice with the opportunity to extend what was already a shocking 4-2 lead for the Maple Leafs. But Frattin’s backhand attempt went wide of Tuukka Rask’s net, and the Bruins weren’t dead yet.

You know what happened next.

Boston scored twice in the waning minutes to send the game into overtime, then broke the hearts of Leafs Nation when Patrice Bergeron pounded a rebound past a prone James Reimer. The Bruins, heavy favorites entering the series, narrowly escaped a massive first-round upset. Boston went on to lose in the 2013 Stanley Cup final. Read more