Deal with defenseman wraps up Predators' offseason business

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 1:36pm

For Cody Franson, it was – and will be – a numbers game.

Before the Nashville Predators’ defenseman agreed to a contract, he and the team had to agree on the number of years. That was settled Wednesday when he agreed to a deal that will pay him $800,000 over each of the next two years.

That’s how much time the 23-year-old now has to show where he fits in among the team’s burgeoning young defense corps.

“Is he going to be a player in our top four or is he just going to be one of seven?” general manager David Poile said. “With Dan Hamhuis being gone (through free agency) and with our other young defensemen, we’re certainly going to look at him as someone who could play a higher role for us.

“I think both sides knew this deal was going to get done. It was just a question of whether it was going to be for one or two years.”

Franson made his NHL debut last season and ultimately played 61 games in the regular season and four more in the playoffs for Nashville.

He had six goals and 15 assists, which tied him for fourth among all rookie defensemen in points and goals and made him only the Predators’ second rookie defensemen ever to score at least 20 points. He was second overall on the team with a plus-15 rating.

Originally a third-round choice (79th overall) he played two full seasons in the American Hockey League before he broke into the NHL.

The new contract ensures that Nashville will have the opportunity – if it chooses – to do one more deal with him.

Franson will be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of this contract, just as he was this past offseason. The Predators retained his rights this time when they made him the necessary one-year qualifying offer. He opted not to sign that deal and worked with the team on a different one.

With Franson now under contract, all of Nashville’s veteran players are signed and available for the start of training camp Sept. 17.

“We’re ready,” Poile said.