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The Grass Is Always Greener - Johan Franzen

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#1 InKennyWeTrust

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:03 AM

tl;dr below the stat-headedness.

The two biggest knocks on Johan Franzen are his streakiness and perceived laziness. Franzen also currently has the fourth highest salary on the team. While the Red Wings are well below the cap floor - spending money isn't a problem - what, exactly is Franzen's value to the team and what should be done with him?

Franzen lead the team with 29 goals, beating fellow whipping-boy Jiri Hudler by 4. His 56 points were good enough for fourth on the team. Franzen essentially paced himself to score a goal once every third game and had .683 ppg. Using this, it is possible to gauge how streaky Johan really is.

I am going to break Franzen's season into 2 week segments, examining goals, points, and pace for both,

Oct 7-Oct 21
GP G A P GPG PPG
5 4 3 7 65.6 114.8
Oct 22-Nov 6
GP G A P GPG PPG
7 1 2 3 34.1 68.3 All of Franzen's points this week came from one game on November 5th, the last of the week.
Nov 7-Nov 21
GP G A P GPG PPG
7 5 5 10 43.1 86.2
Nov 22-Dec 6
GP G A P GPG PPG
7 3 3 6 40.9 81.9
Dec 7-Dec 21
GP G A P GPG PPG
7 1 3 4 34.7 74.4
Dec 22-Jan 5
GP G A P GPG PPG
6 2 1 3 33.6 69.4
Jan 6-Jan 20
GP G A P GPG PPG
8 2 5 7 31.3 69.6
Jan 21-Feb 4
GP G A P GPG PPG
6 1 1 2 29.3 65.0
Feb 5-Feb 19
GP G A P GPG PPG
7 4 1 5 32.4 66.3
Feb 20-Mar 5
GP G A P GPG PPG
6 1 2 3 29.9 62.1
Mar 6-Mar 20
GP G A P GPG PPG
5 2 1 3 29.9 61.2 This is the beginning of the 5 games that Mule missed.
Mar 21-Apr 3
GP G A P GPG PPG
3 0 0 0 28.8 58.7
Apr 4-Apr 7
GP G A P GPG PPG
3 3 0 3 30.8 59.6

So is Franzen statistically streaky? Oh yes. If you expect one goal every third game, you would expect to see about 2 goals every two weeks, give or take. Franzen missed that mark (counting 1-3 goals per week) more than 1/3 of the time. If you count scoring one goal in two weeks as poor, as I would, that count rises to more than 1/2 the time.

Also telling is the changing rate at which Franzen scored. There was no way Mule would continue the pace he set over the first five games, but discounting that, Franzen's PPG pace varied by around 2.7 per two weeks. That indicates a good deal of instability.

tl;dr: Mule is wildly inconsistent. He's only costing about $4M in cap space, but I don't know if I'm comfortable with Franzen being part of the solution moving forward.

Thoughts on Johan?

Edited by Matt, 29 June 2012 - 12:58 PM.


#2 LeftWinger

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:20 AM

Franzen lead the team with 29 goals, beating fellow whipping-boy Jiri Hudler by 4. His 56 points were good enough for fourth on the team. Franzen essentially paced himself to score a goal once every third game


this says it all right here...he paces himself instead of hive his all all seaon long...he plays hard when he wants to and then takes a couple of games off...he needs to be traded, but he won't be...

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Franzen = 0.50 PPG


#3 fixxxer

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:28 AM

Franzen is an enigma to me. I don't understand how we draft big guys like Franzen and Erikson and they don't know how to use their bodies. I want to like Franzen but he makes it increasinly difficult every year. Its like he's hudler stuck in a giants body. He pretty much need to take this summer to find his balls and then be sat down by Babcock who should slap him in the face and tell him he's in a mans league and learn the term "drive to the net". I have no clue why Franzen plays the way he does. Is he scared? Is he just lazy? Only he knows why he does the stuff he does but its like he's allergic to going to the net someone has to do it and it mind as well be him because no one else will and no one else has a big body like that to push his way in. The few times that he does go to the net throughout the season he creates outstanding scoring changes even if he doesn't score on them. I get so excited when he does it, but then you hardly see it happen especially when it matter in th playoffs.

#4 Nev

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:30 AM

tl;dr below the stat-headedness.

The two biggest knocks on Johan Franzen are his streakiness and perceived laziness. Franzen also currently has the fourth highest salary on the team. While the Red Wings are well below the cap floor - spending money isn't a problem - what, exactly is Franzen's value to the team and what should be done with him?


There is nothing perceived about Franzens laziness.

Streakiness is something that all players suffer from to a greater or lesser degree. Even Pavel was ice-cold in the first and last months of the season (for different reasons), and red-hot inbetween. The key is to make the streaks last as long as possible, and minimise the funks.

My problem with Franzens bad attitude is that he is allowed to get away with it. Signing a lifetime contract and being allowed to coast your way through it sends totally the wrong message to the rest of the team.
"If I can be totally honest, it's not a lot of guys you get impressed by. Actually, it's no one else but him. From the bench, to see what move he makes -- you're like, 'I wish I could do that.' Sometimes you sit on the bench and just think, 'wow,' and you look over to the other bench and they sit there and shake their heads, too. He has great, great skills. I'm probably not going to play with another player who has the kind of skills he has." Mikael Samuelsson on Pavel Datsyuk

#5 Heaten

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:51 AM

Need a break down to how bad Zetterberg was to start the season. He was god-awful bad. Also Lidstrom was pretty bad at the end of the season/playoffs.

If Franzen was consistent like very few NHL players are (like Crosby), would Franzen's cap hit be under $4 million? I don't think so.

In essence, Franzen is a bargain right now and will be extremely difficult to replace his offense for under $4 million per year. I would only consider trading Franzen if it's for a younger, tougher, more proven offensive power forward (NOT CHRIS STEWART OR PENNER TYPE GUY)

Edited by Heaten, 29 June 2012 - 11:53 AM.


#6 FlashyG

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:56 AM

I really believe the problem is with us, not with Franzen.

For some reason when he signed his new deal fans developed unrealistic expectations for him and they don't match-up with what he's capable of or what the team actually expects of him. Franzen is not going to be a 50 goal scorer, he's a consistent 25-30 goal guy who will put up around 50-60 pts.

The idea that he's lazy is a fan thing, the players call him "Mule" for a reason. Even Babcock who got annoyed with his play near the end of this year seems to speak only positively about him.

Other than guys on entry level contracts it would be near impossible to find a player who produces more for the amount he gets paid.

#7 haroldsnepsts

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:14 PM

Need a break down to how bad Zetterberg was to start the season. He was god-awful bad. Also Lidstrom was pretty bad at the end of the season/playoffs.

If Franzen was consistent like very few NHL players are (like Crosby), would Franzen's cap hit be under $4 million? I don't think so.

In essence, Franzen is a bargain right now and will be extremely difficult to replace his offense for under $4 million per year. I would only consider trading Franzen if it's for a younger, tougher, more proven offensive power forward (NOT CHRIS STEWART OR PENNER TYPE GUY)

The difference is that when Datsyuk and Zetterberg are on cold streaks, you can see them working hard, backchecking, going to the hard areas. Something about their game just seems a little off or the puck's just not going in but you can see the work.

With Franzen it feels like he works hard for the first part of his shift and if he doesn't score right then he can't wait to coast back to the bench. He's got great size, a great shot and great hands. It's all about his compete level. or lack of it.

When he scores in a game, it's like it reminds him how great it is to score. It lights a fire under him for the rest of the game and he keeps getting great chances and often scores again. If he's not scored in a while though he seems content to just whip it at the net and see if it goes in.

#8 InKennyWeTrust

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:16 PM

I really believe the problem is with us, not with Franzen.

For some reason when he signed his new deal fans developed unrealistic expectations for him and they don't match-up with what he's capable of or what the team actually expects of him. Franzen is not going to be a 50 goal scorer, he's a consistent 25-30 goal guy who will put up around 50-60 pts.

The idea that he's lazy is a fan thing, the players call him "Mule" for a reason. Even Babcock who got annoyed with his play near the end of this year seems to speak only positively about him.

Other than guys on entry level contracts it would be near impossible to find a player who produces more for the amount he gets paid.


I think the production is there, I wouldn't expect a whole lot more from him in terms of goals or points. There are shifts, however, when he just finds a spot in the neutral zone towards the attacking blue line and doesn't really do anything. I'd rather him backcheck hard consistently and lose 5 goals a year than float.

The other problem with the streakiness is that it goes away during the playoffs (usually). That tells me that he has an extra gear, he just only uses it when he wants to.

#9 Carman

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:22 PM

Franzen has too much potential to be cut, and not enough to be traded.

#10 GoalieManPat

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:06 PM

The problem with Franzens streakyness is that if he is not scoring goals he is essentially useless on the ice. He used to be a hard working checker which is what got him to the league. Once he found a scoring touch he's gotten complacent in doing the little things. He doesnt skate hard and the only "meanness" you see of him is maybe a snarl as hes sitting on the bench. Plain and simple he got lazy. It can be summed up in one specific play that stands out last year. Franzen turns the puck over in the offensive zone near the corner and falls down. He gets up and slowly starts skating up the ice. Helm I believe it was stole the puck around center ice. Waited at the blueline for Franzen to get out atleast 3-4 seconds but then was forced into the zone by a back-checker and thus the play ended offside. All because Franzen instead of skating hard after turning the puck over decided to go on a 10 second pity skate and screw an odd man break the other way.

#11 Nightfall

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:22 PM

Need a break down to how bad Zetterberg was to start the season. He was god-awful bad. Also Lidstrom was pretty bad at the end of the season/playoffs.

If Franzen was consistent like very few NHL players are (like Crosby), would Franzen's cap hit be under $4 million? I don't think so.

In essence, Franzen is a bargain right now and will be extremely difficult to replace his offense for under $4 million per year. I would only consider trading Franzen if it's for a younger, tougher, more proven offensive power forward (NOT CHRIS STEWART OR PENNER TYPE GUY)

I agree with this.

Franzen is a $4 million dollar guy that leads our team in scoring. If he was a guy who scored 50 goals, he would be making a couple million more. He is getting compensated accordingly and appropriately.
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#12 JasonNewEra

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:30 PM

Honestly, I like Franzen but he isn't amazing. The same could be said of Zetterberg, they both score minimaly and have WAY to big of contracts. Still if I could I wouldn't get rid of Zetterberg. I might consider Franzen though.

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#13 HelmFan

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:21 PM

I agree with this.

Franzen is a $4 million dollar guy that leads our team in scoring. If he was a guy who scored 50 goals, he would be making a couple million more. He is getting compensated accordingly and appropriately.


If he started skating, back checking, and generally stopped playing like a ***** he would get paid more. I wouldn't have a problem with that at all. I don't think anyone would.

#14 rrasco

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:32 PM

How many of you give 100% effort at your job 100% of the time? How many of you have played a sport, tried your damndest and things just didn't go as well as you wanted? It's a sport. It's an exhausting sport. Not all your shots will go in. Not everything always works. And sometimes you get lucky.

I understand it's frustrating when you feel like someone is not trying, but for what he provides and what he is paid, Mule is an absolute steal. He's not going anywhere, no matter how many times people suggest it on these boards.

If he started skating, back checking, and generally stopped playing like a ***** he would get paid more. I wouldn't have a problem with that at all. I don't think anyone would.


No he wouldn't. He's getting paid the same no matter what now, that's how contracts work. That is unless, of course, he has bonuses in his contract, but I'm too lazy to check.

29 goals for a sub $4M player? I'll take that everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

Edited by rrasco, 29 June 2012 - 02:33 PM.

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#15 GoalieManPat

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:54 PM

How many of you give 100% effort at your job 100% of the time?


Most people do. Otherwise they get fired. Most people don't have the luxury of visibly slacking off 5 of 7 days of the week yet still make 4 mill a year. Pro athletes need to be held to a higher standard as they get paid way more than they are worth in the grand scheme of things. I can think of many many professions that deserve that 4 million a year and to see someone just do the bare minimum most nights is infuriating. In my opinion no sports contacts should be guaranteed. It should all be part of a performance matrix.

#16 HelmFan

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:54 PM

How many of you give 100% effort at your job 100% of the time? How many of you have played a sport, tried your damndest and things just didn't go as well as you wanted? It's a sport. It's an exhausting sport. Not all your shots will go in. Not everything always works. And sometimes you get lucky.

I understand it's frustrating when you feel like someone is not trying, but for what he provides and what he is paid, Mule is an absolute steal. He's not going anywhere, no matter how many times people suggest it on these boards.

No he wouldn't. He's getting paid the same no matter what now, that's how contracts work. That is unless, of course, he has bonuses in his contract, but I'm too lazy to check.

29 goals for a sub $4M player? I'll take that everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.



I don't, but the LA Kings do, and it seems to work well for them.

Does anyone who defends Franzen by using stats actually watch the Wings play?

#17 AtomicPunk

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:07 PM

I sure as hell would give 100% at my job all the time if there were 20,000 people in an arena watching me do my job.
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#18 haroldsnepsts

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:25 PM

How many of you give 100% effort at your job 100% of the time? How many of you have played a sport, tried your damndest and things just didn't go as well as you wanted? It's a sport. It's an exhausting sport. Not all your shots will go in. Not everything always works. And sometimes you get lucky.

I understand it's frustrating when you feel like someone is not trying, but for what he provides and what he is paid, Mule is an absolute steal. He's not going anywhere, no matter how many times people suggest it on these boards.

No he wouldn't. He's getting paid the same no matter what now, that's how contracts work. That is unless, of course, he has bonuses in his contract, but I'm too lazy to check.

29 goals for a sub $4M player? I'll take that everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

That seems to be Babcock's thinking, because if the Wings didn't depend so much on what goals he does score, I'd have to think he'd get demoted for his floating.

Like I said, when Dats and Z aren't doing great you can still see them working hard out there. Franzen takes too many shifts off.

And I'm not asking him to be as disciplined as Lidstrom is year round with his training and diet regimen. I'm just hoping he'd work his ass off for the 18 minutes a game he's on the ice.

18 minutes. If you can't bust your ass for that long every game, how self-entitled and complacent have you gotten??

#19 Heaten

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:43 PM

The difference is that when Datsyuk and Zetterberg are on cold streaks, you can see them working hard, backchecking, going to the hard areas. Something about their game just seems a little off or the puck's just not going in but you can see the work.

With Franzen it feels like he works hard for the first part of his shift and if he doesn't score right then he can't wait to coast back to the bench. He's got great size, a great shot and great hands. It's all about his compete level. or lack of it.

When he scores in a game, it's like it reminds him how great it is to score. It lights a fire under him for the rest of the game and he keeps getting great chances and often scores again. If he's not scored in a while though he seems content to just whip it at the net and see if it goes in.


Is this why Zetterberg and Datsyuk make almost twice as much as Franzen? I mean, you get what you pay for, right?

#20 joesuffP

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:48 PM

Franzen is not overpaid for his production. The team itself was streaky it wasn't just Franzen, and I don't think calling him lazy is really fair. Just cause he doesn't dominate shift in and shift out like Datsyuk used to doesn't mean he's lazy... Unrealistic expectations





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