The Blackhawks had been carrying eight defensemen. The emergence of Jordan Oesterle, 25, as a top-pairing partner of star Duncan Keith as well as the improved play of third-pairing defenders Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta made Franson expendable.
But it was seen as a curious move as Franson, 30, met the expectations that were placed on him after joining the Blackhawks on a professional tryout contract in the preseason.
Franson had seven points in 23 games, skating 16:36 per game on average in a season that saw him miss seven games with an upper body injury last month. His underlying numbers were strong: a 8.21 relative Corsi rating, best on Chicago, and an indication that the Blackhawks were a better possession team with Franson on the ice.
The Blackhawks waived Franson with the intention of demoting him to the American Hockey League, but it would be a surprise if he wasn’t claimed by another team before noon on Tuesday. Franson is a veteran that would be an upgrade for several teams, and he has a cap-friendly contract of $1 million, with unrestricted free agency this summer.