Worth the wait? Cody Franson, Blackhawks will soon find out


Worth the wait? Cody Franson, Blackhawks will soon find out

Cody Franson had to wait this offseason, wait to see if he would get any offers during free agency, wait to see if anyone would need his services at some point. Good thing he’s been through this before.

“For some reason it’s been one of those things where the contracts kind of had to wait,” he said on Friday. “Even having the successful year in Toronto and getting traded, my first year of free agency I didn’t sign with Buffalo until the end of September. It’s something that’s always happened that way for me, I don’t really know why. I have a chip on my shoulder about it and I want to go out there and right some wrongs.”

Franson is hoping another wait leads to another contract, this time with the Blackhawks. The 30-year-old defenseman had offers this summer and, recognizing the potential opportunity with Chicago, signed a PTO with the Blackhawks earlier this month. On paper, it could be an excellent fit. After losing Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk the Blackhawks could use another veteran, especially a right-handed shot. He also brings size (6-foot-5, 225 lbs.) and is familiar with the Blackhawks defense, from previous meetings and offseason workouts.

“We skate together in the summer. We know each other pretty good,” Brent Seabrook said. “I think he’s a big body, can move pretty good and he likes to make plays and he’s got a huge shot. Another big physical presence back there. Could be good.”

Coach Joel Quenneville agreed.

“He has a lot of attributes you look for in a defenseman: big, mobile, can shoot the puck and has some experience,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for him to show his stuff here in scrimmages. He gives us some size and is something nice to look at.”

Franson spent the last two seasons with the Sabres, where he had a cap hit of $3.325 per season. The Blackhawks would have cap space once they put Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve near the start of the season. Sure, it all comes down to Franson having a strong camp. But the Blackhawks are in need of a few things on defense and Franson would fill a few of those voids.

It was another summer of waiting for Franson. But if he has the camp he and the Blackhawks hope he has, it will be worth it.

“The core group of guys they have here, the position they’re in, it felt like a good opportunity to have a successful year if everything goes well,” he said. “Being able to play with that group of forwards and the experienced defensemen these guys have, having been around as long as I have you can still learn from guys like that. I’ve played on teams that have struggled, missed the playoffs, things like that. To have this opportunity is something I’m very excited about. If everything goes accordingly I think it could be a great fit.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.