Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Forward Kadri Reports with New Deal, While Maple Leafs Wait on Franson

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Forward Kadri Reports with New Deal, While Maple Leafs Wait on Franson

Article excerpt

Leafs' Kadri at camp but Franson has no deal

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TORONTO - Nazem Kadri was relieved to have a new deal, and that emotion extended to his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates who won't have to answer questions about his status.

"They are glad it's over," Kadri said. "I'm sure they'll take me out for a nice dinner on me."

Fresh off signing a US$5.8-million, two-year contract, the restricted free-agent centre was all smiles and ready to move past the summer squabbling as he reported to training camp. But with defenceman Cody Franson unsigned and no extensions yet for captain Dion Phaneuf and star Phil Kessel, the Maple Leafs still face plenty of contract questions.

The most pressing situation is that of Franson, the only one of the 59 players invited to camp who did not report.

"My deal's out of the way now, and hopefully Franny and his agent could come together and come to terms because he's a big piece of our team," Kadri said. "I know everyone wants him back and I know he wants to be back. It's just a matter of when."

Judging by what general manager Dave Nonis had to say Wednesday, it could be a while unless the 26-year-old blue-liner moves closer to the Maple Leafs' negotiating position like Kadri did. Nonis said the team wasn't prepared to change its stance on Kadri, crediting him for wanting to be there for the first day of camp.

Now the pressure is on Franson.

"We've made him an offer that we want him to take," Nonis said. "He's declined to take it. At this point, we're going to move ahead with the players we have here in camp."

Nonis wasn't afraid to boast about Toronto's depth on defence. Beyond Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner, John-Michael Liles and Mark Fraser, the Maple Leafs will also give prospect Morgan Rielly and free-agent signee Paul Ranger hard looks in training camp.

It's not personal, but the Maple Leafs only have between $2 million and $3 million of salary-cap space to work with, and that could put a squeeze on Franson.

"There's realities about where you are," Nonis said. "We have 'X' amount of cap space. We have players who are going to try to make this team that may eat up some of that. There's only so much we have to get a deal done. I understand his position, he doesn't think this is fair. We want him signed. We want to have Cody at camp. But he's not here."

Kadri is in camp on a deal that will make him prove 44 points in a lockout-shortened 48-game season wasn't a fluke. He called it "fair for both sides," as his coach emphasized the importance of every player being in camp.

"The 48 games he played with us last year was a start, but you wouldn't consider him a veteran guy when his next NHL game is his 100th game," Randy Carlyle said. "He's a talented young player, and we feel fortunate to have him."

The Maple Leafs are fortunate to have Kessel and Phaneuf, too, though each player's future is uncertain as he goes into the final year of his contract. …

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