The Washington Capitals, despite having a very successful off-season, still have some holes to fill. Probably the biggest one is on their blueline, as the Washington Capitals are currently forced to go with two inexperienced lefties in Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt. While I’m excited to see what the duo could do with more consistent playing time, neither of the two are going to help fill the hole left by Mike Green.
It’s also worth noting that the Washington Capitals power play runs optimally when there’s a right-handed defenseman operating from the point. Currently, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are the only two right-handed options. So if either of the two go down, that means that the Washington Capitals would be forced to call up either Connor Carrick or Madison Bowey from the Hershey Bears. How can the Caps avoid this situation? By giving free agent defenseman Cody Franson a professional tryout.
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It honestly baffles me how Franson is still available in free agency. Since the beginning of the shortened 2012-13 season, he ranks 25th in points per game. He has a reputation for being a liability on defense, but since the 2012-13 season, he has made his team better at suppressing shots. His reputation says that he is very good on offense, which his shot attempt generation numbers confirm is true. While it is true that he has been sheltered during his career, he dominates when he is sheltered. That’s more than I can say for Orlov or Schmidt.
Franson is the type of defenseman who could help the Washington Capitals replace Mike Green. Yes, Green might not have the best reputation in the nation’s capital after game seven against the Rangers, but let’s not let recency bias cloud the fact that Green was one heck of a defenseman for the Capitals. Few created offense the way that he did. As much as I like Orlov and Schmidt, neither of them can match that. Franson certainly has the potential to do so.
So who sits if Franson’s in the lineup? I’d go with Schmidt, at least at first. I want to see what Orlov can do with a starting job. It’s something that he would have had last season had he been healthy. Orlov did well even when the coaching didn’t utilize his unique skill set properly. Schmidt is still waiver-exempt, so he could be sent down to the Hershey Bears and called up if needed. I’d honestly rather have Schmidt play first pairing minutes in Hershey than sit in the press box.
Usually, I’m in favor of the Washington Capitals giving younger players a chance. However, the Caps also have their Stanley Cup window closing. It’s time for them to do what will help them win that Cup. Franson, in my mind, helps to accomplish that objective.