Defenseman Cody Franson remains without a contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs and said Friday he might have to consider playing in Europe.
"I honestly didn't believe it would come to this," Franson, a restricted free agent, told Sportsnet.
Franson said he could return to Sweden, where he played 26 games for Brynas prior to the 2012-13 NHL season.
"It's definitely something I might have to consider," Franson said after another skate with the Ryerson Rams. "Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but I was in Sweden last year, and it's not like I haven't been over there before. If it comes down to that, unfortunately, hopefully not, it's an option."
The report said the Maple Leafs are offering a two-year contract worth about $5 million, but Franson, 26, is seeking a one-year deal so he can pursue a bigger raise next season when the NHL salary cap is expected to increase.
General manager Dave Nonis told the network there is nothing new in the talks, and Randy Carlyle is coaching preseason games without Franson, who tied for sixth among NHL defensemen in scoring last season (29 points).
"As a coach, we're just prepared to go with the players we have," Carlyle said. "I have no control over his decisions and where he's at, his contract. Obviously, we'd like the player here, but contractually he hasn't got an agreement in place, so as a coach, he doesn't even become part of your thought process. It's a cruel thing to say, but you move on without people."
Forward Nazem Kadri also was a restricted free agent before signing a two-year contract reportedly worth $5.8 million on the eve of training camp.
"I know he's a little frustrated; so is everybody because we just want him to be here," Kadri said. "We know we're a better team with him on it."