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Should The Red Wings Buyout Johan Franzen?

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How much longer are we going to need to feed The Mule?

Jonathan Daniel

We all knew this was coming. Throughout the entire season we have heard reticent talks among the hockey community that Detroit should opt to use their final compliance buyout on Johan Franzen. To me, this guy is an enigma. He has the potential to be a very effective scorer, but is often found lazily skating about and dumping the puck into the zone which leads to it being spat right back out. Yet for some reason, it's like he has a switch in his head, that he turns on at his convenience and when he does, all hell breaks loose. We saw it this season when he scored four goals against Ottawa and laughed in Chris Neil's face for being a mutated piece of camel shit. Franzen is really easy to like when he's being productive and almost too easy to hate when he isn't. His contract expires in 2020, when he is in his 40's. He ended this season with 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) in 54 games. He missed some time with a concussion, so that put a bit of a handle on how many games he played.
One thing to like about Johan Franzen, his cap-hit is very friendly. Johan's cap-hit for the next 6 years stays fixed at $3,954,545. I think $3.9 million is a pretty decent price for a player who can score 50 points. Problem is, Mule isn't getting any younger or any better. 
Johan Franzen ended his season shooting a 2.92 Corsi On/60 minutes. Riley Sheahan lead the team with 13.77 Corsi On/60 minutes. Yeah, Sheahan is younger, but wow what a difference.

Cap Hit Comparables:

Wayne Simmonds 25 years old (PHI): $3,975,000 Cap Hit until 2019
Simmonds had 60 points (29 goals, and 31 assists) in 82 games this season.
Adam Henrique 24 years old (NJD): $4,000,000 Cap Hit until 2019
Henrique had 43 points (29 goals, and 18 assists) in 77 games this season
Daniel Briere 36 years old (MON): $4,000,000 Cap Hit until 2015
Briere had 25 points (13 goals, and 12 assists) in 69 games this season
P.A. Parenteau 31 years old (COL): $4,000,000 Cap Hit until 2016
Parenteau had 33 points (14 goals, and 19 assists) in 55 games this season

As you see, I picked the younger guys first. Simmonds is coming off of a career-best season. He did a great job at being the net-front guy for Philadelphia, something Franzen should be doing for Detroit in my opinion. When you compare Franzen's cap-hit to players like Parenteau or Briere, you get a pretty good handle that there are much worse situations out there. Again, Franzen is signed thru 2020.. Longer than all of these player's contracts. Take from that what you will, but I don't think Franzen is going to be the same player when he's between the ages for 37 and 40.

Personal opinion:
Franzen didn't exactly sell himself to fans in this playoffs this year. He was downright lethargic with 0 goals and 1 assist when his team needed him most. It was maddening to watch. However, I think everyone expects him to perform like a top-line guy. I don't think he's worthy to be a top-six forward anymore. If Franzen can be stuck on the third line going forward, fine. Keep him. If you're going to try and put his lazy ass on the top-end and try to get production out of him night-in and night-out, no thanks. For the money, Franzen's production is worth it. But like I said before, he isn't getting younger and definitely isn't getting anymore inspired to play hard every game. So, if The Mule can be a 3rd line winger going forward, and the coaches can keep him out of the top-six, and he can learn how to properly set-up a good screen so we can actually start scoring more often on special teams, I say keep him. 40-50 points from a 3rd liner/1st PP guys would be pretty good for $3.9 million, I think. But can he produce at that rate as he gets older?

For the record, I think Jordin Tootoo is the most likely candidate for a buyout. Even though he's buried in Grand Rapids, it would free up a necessary spot in the farm system for a young guy to make his move. I think the organization is upset with Mule, but not enough to warrant a compliance buyout. Buying him out would be a step in the right direction for "future" purposes while not buying him out would just be a neutral move. Whoever they end up using their last compliance buyout on, it's a step in the right direction.