Predators' prospect Cody Franson may draw some unfair comparisons to Shea Weber, if he joins the Preds this year. The franchise defenseman is a tough standard for a young player, even one with Franson's promise. Still, some similarities are apparent: both players stand about 6' 3'', 200 pounds; each is considered a tough defender with good offensive skills. Weber is just two years older, so we can make a useful comparison of their performances to this point.
Franson to date:
And Weber at the same ages:
Shea had already experienced a phenomenal breakout season by Franson's age (21). Still, there are some interesting comparisons to be made in their minor league numbers. Franson had more goals at age 19 at the same level in nearly equal playing time was Weber. He also paced Weber in assists most years, although that's probably not as good of a predictor of future talent, since assists are more team-dependent than goals. The real difference lies in Weber's first AHL season, where he had a breakout 12 goals in just 46 games, leading to his callup. By contrast, Franson seems to have hit a wall in Milwaukee, improving his assists, but not his goals. One possible explanation is that Franson's skills dominated the weaker competition without improving at the same rate as Shea's. Still, given his track record and previous success, Franson looks like a possible breakout candidate, or, at the very least, a good player to feed Weber's hard shots in Nashville.