|Cody Franson moves the puck during Toronto Maple Leafs practice at the Mastercard Centre on Nov. 16, 2011. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - For someone who has played in just four games this season, Cody Franson was a popular guy on Wednesday.
The Maple Leafs defenceman not only is probable to play in Nashville against the Predators — the NHL club that drafted him in 2005 — but reporters also wanted know what Franson thought about being coveted by other teams in the league.
General manager Brian Burke has been getting interest in Franson, with at least one trade offer, but he has no desire to move the 24-year-old. For Burke, blue-line depth is paramount, and Franson provides that.
“I’ve heard some of the rumours, too, but it’s one of those things where you try not to let it affect you too much,” Franson said. “It’s out of my hands. It’s their call and I’m just trying to be ready with every chance I get.”
Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he probably will dress seven defencemen when the Leafs play in Nashville for just the fourth time in franchise history. Franson has played only once since Oct. 20 and is worst among Leafs defencemen with mark of minus-5, but Wilson is keeping his fingers crossed that Franson shows up the organization that traded him to Toronto along with Matthew Lombardi in July, with Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney going the other way to Nashville.
Franson spent some drills at practice on Wednesday with Luke Schenn as his partner.
“Every game is a chance for me to prove something to people,” the 6-foot-5, 213-pound Franson said. “When you are in the situation I’m in, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get. You have to try to make a good impression whether you are going back in the lineup the next night or not.
“I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated or anything like that. It’s a bit of a tough spot, but what can you do?”
After practising against the Predators forwards for the past two seasons, no Leaf knows what to expect more than Franson.
“They’re going to come hard and smart,” Franson said. “It will be a quick, up-in-your face type of game. They don’t give you too much offensively.”
Franson was asked if he was going to visit famous country and western bar Tootsie’s on Wednesday night.
“No, tomorrow is a business day,” Franson said with a smile. “I have to take care of that.”