NHL Free Agency: Calgary Flames Top Five Targets

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1. Cody Franson – Nashville Predators

Feb 24, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson (44) tosses the puck to the referee after a stoppage in play during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t a banner year for free agents, and though Franson is not a franchise defenceman, he is definitely the best one available and would be a great fit with the Calgary Flames. Another player who has been around a long time, and is younger than you may expect at just 27, Franson has a lot of good hockey left in him.

Franson is a huge defender at 6’5″ and 213 pounds which is exactly what the Flames management team has claimed they are looking to acquire this summer. Franson plays a physical style in the defensive zone, but also has a booming shot from the point that makes him a threat in the offensive zone as well.

Franson was dealt to the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline last year after playing three and a half seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored 36 points last season and 33 the year before proving he has the capability to add some offence from the back end.

As a right shot defender, there are a few options to how Franson would fit on the Flames blue line. He could play on the top pairing with Giordano which would allow Brodie to play on the second pairing with Wideman, though splitting up one of the best pairings in the league may not be a great idea. Franson could also play on the second pairing, which would drop Wideman down to a third pairing and power play specialist spot.

Either way, adding Franson would add much needed depth to the Flames back end. It would knock overpaid and over-played Deryk Engelland out of the top six and give the Flames an incredible right side of their D with Brodie, Franson and Wideman.

Franson’s mixture of size and skill should make him the first player the Flames call when the courting period begins this morning. General manager Brad Treliving mentioned he wants to add size, and bringing in Franson would solve that, while also giving the team a huge dose of talent on the blue line as well.

Franson didn’t really fit well with the Predators though they were playing him behind Shea Weber and Seth Jones which made it difficult to stand out. he would be a better fit as a number three guy on the Flames roster, and they can hope that his four points in 23 games with the Predators will knock his asking price down.

I’m guessing he will still want a six year deal after several one year contracts with the Maple Leafs, and will likely be looking for a cap hit of $5.75 million per season. It’s a huge contract, but he would be the best fit of all free agents and would be worth the hefty contract for Calgary.