Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson is set to miss some time after taking a shot to the foot in the team’s Thursday night contest against the Anaheim Ducks. Franson was seen in a walking boot yesterday and, when asked for an update today by the Buffalo News’ John Vogel, coach Dan Bylsma informed him that a bone bruise in the foot would keep the big blue liner out two to three weeks.
The injury is a double-whammy for the Sabres. Going into tonight’s game, Buffalo trails the Boston Bruins by eight points with three games in hand for the final playoff spot in the division and had a chance to gain ground on the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs with a win. Not only does Frason’s injury hurt their chances against Toronto, but it substantially weakens their defense in all nine of their remaining games this month. The other side of the injury, as Vogel notes, is that Franson may not return prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1st, and even if he does, his trade value will certainly be affected. With Franson out, the Sabres have an even greater chance of falling further out of the postseason race and becoming sellers, but Franson is also one of their top trade chips. There are wide-ranging views of Franson’s NHL value, but a market would have surely developed for his service, as was discussed in his recent Trade Candidates profile. That market is less firm following this injury news.
Franson has three goals and 13 assists in 51 games this season for Buffalo. In the second year of this two-year deal that took all summer to sign in 2015, Franson has continued to disappoint as a Sabre. Franson remains a solid defensive player, but was also a major point-producer early in his career with the Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs; Franson has not met those lofty expectations in Buffalo. A large part of his struggle has been the team’s unwillingness to give him major ice time on the power play, where historically he has been most dangerous. Franson needs a new home where he can rediscover his offensive game and be put to better use and the Sabres were very unlikely to give him an extension anyway. A deadline trade seemed very likely, but now becomes a question mark as March 1st approaches.