On Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres acquired the hulking Cody Franson in a 2 year deal. From an AB perspective, BUF was one of the only teams in the NHL where Franson, at almost a -4 AB with Nashville last year, could actually improve the Sabres back line potentially. In fact, every BUF defenseman cost the team over 6 goals each AB last season. As a result, Franson is now the best AB blue liner on the Sabres, even though he was one of the lower decile AB men in the NHL. This could have been part of the reason he was an unsigned free agent for the entire summer, but eventually found a home in Buffalo. His immediate value to BUF cannot be understated; his replacement of anyone on the BUF defense is a 2 to 8 goal improvement over existing roster players. That’s both sad and amazing at the same time. So Franson, while part of the problem in NSH should be able to stop at least some of the bleeding in Buffalo.
Then something somewhat inexplicable happened involving the suddenly not so mighty NHL Champion Blackhawks. Yes, we know they are cap pressed. Yes we know they have problems with Patrick Kane. Yes we know they wish to retain Marcus Kruger. However, what is not evident to us is why they would part with two additional positive AB players to accomplish this end? Today they traded Kris Versteeg (+3 AB) and Joakim Nordstrom (+1.5 AB and excellent net penalty margin guy, only had 4 PIM in 38 games and averaged over 10 mins per night) to the Hurricanes for prospect defensemen Jake Massie and Dennis Robertson, as well as a fifth-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. Moving Versteeg and Nordstrom would not have had an enormous AB impact for the Hawks except that this trade follows the losses of Saad, Oduya and Richards (and maybe Kane). Suddenly, that solid standing at the top of the division CHI enjoyed is now only slightly positive….it becomes dangerously close to breakeven if Kane misses significant time.
From a Hurricanes standpoint, the trade looks excellent in that they are projected to improve by almost 3 goals over alternative players for just Versteeg alone. If Nordstrom is used in a fourth line situation, it may result in more power play time for the Canes on which they were 5.8 GF and 2.0 GA versus opponents while 5×4. Actually, from the looks of it, this move may have brought CAR up one place in the standings (preliminarily). Although still not a playoff team, CAR has improved itself marginally with this trade.