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February 11, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson (4) looks for the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes: Could Cody Franson Be A Trade Target?

With the Toronto Maple Leafs signing Nazem Kadri to a two-year/$5.8 million deal last night, the Leafs have a little less than $2 million in cap space to re-sign RFA defenseman Cody Franson, according to CapGeek.

The Carolina Hurricanes have yet to hear on the severity of Joni Pitkanen‘s still recovering heel, but it looks like the player will miss at least the start of the season.

Because of this, the Canes will be looking for an experienced puck-moving defenseman that can help replace Pitkanen. Franson fits that bill and may be available for a trade.

The signing of Nazem Kadri may have opened up a possibility of a Cody Franson trade. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

It is likely that Franson will want more than $2 million a season, which the Maple Leafs cannot offer, but the Hurricanes can.

Last season, the 26-year-old scored 29 points in 45 games, matching a career high and planted himself in the Toronto lineup. He also scored six playoff points in seven games.

Among Franson’s skills is the ability to run the power-play and pass the puck for a smooth transition game, both of which Pitkanen does for the Canes. He also stands at 6-foot-5.

However, the British Columbia native does not use his size as well as he could by not playing a physical game. Defensive consistency has also been a problem through Franson’s career.

But if Franson was acquired by the Hurricanes it would be as a replacement for Pitkanen, who does not play an excellent defensive game himself.

As for the cost of Franson, Toronto would probably want a draft pick considering the team’s salary cap problem. The return is likely to be a third or second-round pick.

At that cost, it may be worth it to the Canes. Franson could replace Pitkanen if he is out for a long period of time and when he comes back, Franson will be added depth, which the Hurricanes could use.

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