Toronto Maple Leafs restricted free agent defenseman Cody Franson has signed with Brynäs of the Swedish Elite League on Monday with the intention of playing the entirety of the 2012-13 season with the club regardless of what happens with the NHL lockout.
As of this time, the Swedish Elite League has stated that it will not be releasing signed players from their contracts, which has limited the league as an alternative source of employment for locked out NHL players.
The Maple Leafs and Franson have reportedly disagreed about the young defenseman's value following last season, which saw him spend a portion of time in the press box as a scratch. Some believe that signing with Brynäs may be a negotiation tactic to force the Maple Leafs hand after the lockout is lifted. However, multiple reports have contended that Franson signed for the year, which means he will not be playing with Toronto in 2012-13.
Franson was acquired by the Maple Leafs in July of 2011 as part of a deal with the Nashville Predators that sent Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney to Nashville in exchange for Franson and Matthew Lombardi.