Franson injury adds more questions to Leafs blue line
Perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs should avoid playing preseason games against the Buffalo Sabres altogether. Nothing good ever comes from said games.
For the second time in as many games the Leafs defeated the Sabres in preseason action Sunday night, but once again injuries are the hot topic in Toronto.
The Leafs lost forward David Booth (bruised foot) and defenseman Cody Franson (left leg) in the win.
Carlyle didn’t really have an update on Franson post-game, but offered up his “synopsis” to reporters.
“He went awkwardly into the boards and he fell pretty hard. It looked like he hit his knee cap or some part of the leg went underneath him into the boards first so I can’t really make a comment other than that synopsis,” said Carlyle.
As you see in the video, Franson gets a little shove from behind courtesy Sabres’ forward Torrey Mitchell, but it looks as though Franson could’ve injured his knee prior to hitting the boards when his skate gets caught near the top of the crease.
Franson and Booth’s injuries are in addition to David Clarkson (facial injury) and Henrik Tallinder (dislocated shoulder) who were sidelined on Friday night during the win in Buffalo.
It’s unclear if Tallidner would’ve actually made the club since he’s on a camp invite and without a contract, but Franson is one of the Leafs’ top four defensemen and spent last season alongside Dion Phaneuf on the top pairing on the power play.
The Leafs will likely start the season with Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner on the blue line, but with Franson now in flux, it opens the door for another body at camp to get a longer look.
One of Stuart Percy, Korbinian Holzer or Petter Granberg are the likely candidates should Franson miss the start of the season.
“All three guys have different sets of skills, skill set that is a little bit different,” said Carlyle.
Percy, the Leafs first round pick (25th overall) in 2011 is coming off his first full pro season with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. The 6-foot-1, 193 pound Ontario native had 25 points and a plus-4 rating in 71 games.
“You’d describe him as a puck-moving defenseman, that finds people, very heady,” Carlyle said of the 21-year-old.
Granberg, 22, the Leafs fourth round selection at the 2010 NHL Draft (116th overall) played his first season in North America last year appearing in 73 games for the Marlies.
Carlyle described Granberg as a “a robust, rough and tumble type of player.”
The native of Sweden made his NHL debut last season dressing in one game for the Leafs.
Holzer meanwhile is the most experienced of the three with 24 NHL games under his belt. The Leafs fourth round selection from the 2006 draft also spent all of last season in the AHL after starting the 2012-13 season with the Leafs.
“He’s a big man that cover’s a lot of space, got a good stick, strong defensively, good size,” Carlyle said of the 26-year-old German native.
“I wouldn’t say all three players would be the fastest players on the ice, but they’re efficient,” Carlyle added. “They are unique in their own special way.”
Neither defenseman will replace Franson in the short-term, but all three could get longer looks as the injuries continue to pile up for the Leafs.
As for Tallinder, an update is expected on his shoulder Monday.