Originally written on Nightmare on Helm Street  |  Last updated 4/25/12

DETROIT - JUNE 12: Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings warms up before playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


Chris Note:  As I am still mourning the loss of a Winged loved one, DetCapC19 came thru with a great guest post.  Enjoy. 

There’s been a lot said about Johan Franzen over the course of both this season and our recent playoff failure.

In particular, I was caught off guard when Babcock seemed to call him out after Game 5 saying, “I don't think we had a lot of help for Pavel”. This after he relegated Mule to the 4th line in a do-or-die game in the 3rd period.

However, while I agree that his effort in the regular season can sometimes leave you wanting more and he may not have had his typical Franzen-type numbers this year in the playoffs, I think there are a lot of guys we can point the finger at before Mule.  I actually thought he was one of our more engaged forwards this series.

Hit the jump for more on point analysis:

One thing I’d like to point out though is that while the term of his deal is a bit long, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a lot of 30 goal scorers who have a cap hit of $3.9M.

Scoring 30 goals would put you in the top 30 in goal scoring this year.   Franzen’s 29 had him in a tie for 31st overall.  Of the 30 players ahead of him, only 6 get paid less than Franzen (not including players on entry-level deals).

Of those 6:

  • 2 of them – Vrbata and Clarkson – hit 30 for the first time this year after previous highs of 27 (2008) and 17 (2009), respectively.  So it’s likely that these were one-off seasons vs. anything consistent;
  • Ryder scored 30 for the first time in 6 years (and not surpassing 18 goals the previous 2 years);
  • Couture and Pacioretty both recently signed 2 years extensions prior to scoring 30 goals and have both only been full-time NHLers for 2 seasons.  In all likelihood, given their age and production will see raises above $4M when their contracts are up.
  • Only Matt Moulson makes less money ($600K less) and has scored 30 goals in each of the last 3 seasons.

Mule has been a 30-goal threat for the previous 4 seasons (34, 10 (in 27 games), 28, and 29).  He also scored 27 the year before that.

To further my point, here is a list of the top 20 cap hit comparables to Franzen per capgeek.com.  Of those 20 players, how many would you rather have than Franzen?

  • Pavelski? Perhaps. But for a team that’s trying to get bigger, the 5’11 Pavelski is a step in the wrong direction.  If he wasn’t a right-handed shot, I wouldn’t even be giving him a second thought.
  • Horton? For sure (although his concussion problems could be an issue moving forward).  He’s also unrestricted after next season (so he’ll likely receive a raise).
  • Jordan Staal? He’s due for a big raise once his contract is up after next season (UFA).
  • Sharp? Just signed an extension that puts him in the $6M range.
  • Lucic? He’s 9 years younger and would provide us with something we sorely need but players like him don’t come around very often and while their numbers are close, I would argue that Franzen is a better goal scorer than Lucic is.  And Franzen would never get away with Lucic’s playoff numbers:
  • Krecji? Not exactly what we need. Personally I’d rather have Franzen.
  • Morrow? Yeah.  Huge fan, but can he stay healthy?  When he plays 82 games he’s a 30-goal threat.  But he does that every other year and at age 33 I don’t see that trend reversing.

Is this all an exact science?  No.  But, for better or for worse, in the salary cap world, a $4M 30-goal scorer is pretty tough to find.  And the fact that he has size (not that he’s running over people or anything) and can also play center if required puts him above a lot of the guys that outscored him this year and make less money as well as a lot of the players on that comparable list.

Something worth considering when we make him our whipping boy for the next 8 years.

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