I tell ya I've fought tougher men
but I really can't remember when
he kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile
-Shel Silverstein, "A Boy Named Sue"
The Mule is a favorite in Detroit. He's not an out-of-nowhere story like Henrik Zetterberg rise from the seventh round to NHL superstardom - Franzen was drafted in the third round and had some minimal fanfare when selected. What has been a surprise, however, is his offensive outburst over the last three seasons. A look at this time in Sweden and his first few seasons in Detroit through Desjardins' NHLE shows a player that "got it' very late in his development curve:
|Season||Team||NHL82 G||NHL82 A||NHL82 P|
|2005-06||Detroit Red Wings||12||4||16|
|2006-07||Detroit Red Wings||12||24||36|
|2007-08||Detroit Red Wings||31||13||44|
|2008-09||Detroit Red Wings||39||29||68|
|2009-10||Detroit Red Wings||30||33||63|
|2010-11||Detroit Red Wings||37||30||67|
The Linkoping totals are calculated using NHL Equivalency. It's not often that a forward breaks out at age 27, are it's even more strange that he gets better at age 30.
But Franzen isn't a fluke. He's not relying on teammates or shooting percentage. He's a bonafide player, capable of outshooting his competition and moving the puck in the right direction.
|Season||Corsi||RCorsi||RCorsi RK||Adj. Corsi ||QC ||QT ||OPct||ZS RK ||EV +/- ||+/- RK
His Corsi numbers have fallen off this season, but that may be attributable to playing second liner competition with bottom of the barrel quality of teammates. His EV +/- is still solid (though bottom half of the roster on the dominant Red Wings). Many of these numbers can be located on Franzen's Player Card at behindthenet.ca. Even without Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup, it's likely Franzen's Corsi will rebound.
Franzen is an example of a player getting it very, very late in his development curve, and a shining example of patience in player development - a hallmark of Ken Holland's regime in Detroit. A lesser management team may have dumped a player with such a seemingly low ceiling, but Holland stuck with him and brought him straight to Detroit. There's much to be said about the Detroit model and most of it starts with Holland's player development organization.