Today the Kings announced the signing of barely known but long forgotten defensman Johan Fransson. If his name sounds familiar, but your not sure why, its probably because you last heard it in association with another Swedish Kings’ defenseman whom you most assuredly remember fondly, Mattias Norstrom. The rights to Fransson came to the Kings in 2007 in exchange for Norstrom, Konstantin Pushkarev and draft picks. Yes, that is the same trade that returned everyone’s favorite, the former Randy Jones, Jaroslav Modry to the Kings.
OK, now some of you, either the more overworked or under-rested of the bunch, are still thinking to yourselves, “Sorry Surly, that’s not ringing any bells… but I still feel like I know this Fransson fellow.” Let’s just clear that up right now, the Johan Fransson now under a 1 year, 2 way contract with the Kings (no dollars and cents announced as of yet), is not Johan Franzen, the Swedish mule from Detroit. FranSSon, whose softer pronunciation of his surname hopefully does not translate to his game on the ice, is a 25 year old blueliner who played this last season for Lucea HF of the Swedish Elite League. Yeah… Lucea HF doesn’t mean anything to me either. But the SEL is no joke of a league (sorry Mikus), and last year Fransson tallied 11 goals and 19 assists, good for 30 points in 54 games, which is impressive by the low scoring standards of Swedish hockey. Unfortunately, that didn’t help his team from finishing 3rd to last in the 12 team league. Still, Johan’s numbers put him as the 5th highest scoring defenseman in the entire league (or so I’ve read, I’m having trouble finding a comprehensive list of the SEL scoring by position to confirm this).
However with Fransson’s explosive offense, and it is explosive (see videos below), comes the caveat of being considered an underwhelming player defensively. Take that for what its worth, as I have not ever seen Fransson play myself. If you do a little digging however, this seems to be the general consensus.
Fransson, at 25 years old, will get his first chance to make an NHL with the Kings this fall.
The real question you have to ask yourself is, what is the exact motive behind this signing? Several possibilities arise.
Fransson could be seen as a replacement for a Manchester defenseman (Hickey, Voynov, Muzzin, Martinez, etc) who makes the Kings out of camp.
Fransson could be seen as a replacement for a defenseman yet to be traded this offseason.
The Kings could very well see Fransson as a cheap replacement for Randy Jones, with the potential to far surpass his similarly talented but abhorrently flat-footed predecessor.
It could always just be a ‘what the hell, give the kids one more guy to beat out in camp’ type of signing. Put a little more pressure on Hickey, Voynov, et all, to get a better sense of who will rise to the added challenge.
As usual, time will tell.
For now, let’s go to the videotape! Fransson wears #8 (though not for long if he wants to be with the Kings).
Try not to laugh at the timbre of the announcers voices, its impolite.
(I think this is Fransson… I don’t speak Swedish jive)