So how’s that Cody Hodgson trade working out for Vancouver?

Cody Hodgson stickhandles and floats, which is not uncommon for him.

While the swap of two high-end rookies isn’t exactly the sort of thing that can be assessed in a month, the early returns in the shocking trade deadline deal that sent Cody “Dr. Headson” Hodgson to Buffalo for Zack “Mama” Kassian don’t flatter the Canucks.

On the surface, there’s enough there for Sabres blog Sabre Noise to take a cursory glance at the production of the two men since the trade and call it — brace yourselves — a fleecing for Buffalo. Kassian’s been toothless (both figuratively and literally) since arriving in Vancouver. Until his assist on March 30 bumped his point total to 3, his production since the trade matched Cory Schneider’s. Meanwhile, Hodgson has a much sexier 8 points, all of which have come since being promoted to a line with Thomas Vanek 8 games ago.

But the Canucks were well aware that Cody was light years ahead of Kassian offensively. At the end of February, Cody had 33 points to Kassian’s 7. Coaching and management’s concern was that, without some serious sheltering, Hodgson’s defensive deficiencies would undermine his production and make Vancouver easier to play against in the playoffs.

It would appear that these concerns were justified.

"Hush up, Nystrom. And stop licking my hand."

Since arriving in Buffalo 18 games ago, Hodgson has been on the ice for 15 Buffalo goals. However, he’s been on the ice for 18 of the Sabres’ 44 goals against. That’s 41% of them.

Worse, the Sabres have been outscored 13 to 7 at even-strength with Hodgson on the ice. He has an even plus-minus on the year; he was a plus-8 when he left.

To be fair, some of this is due to bad bounces, but Cody’s not doing himself any favours: the Sabres control 44.6% of Fenwick events when he’s on the ice, which is a fancy way of saying the opposition has the puck a lot. Since the trade, only fourth-liner Matt Ellis has a worse Fenwick rating among Sabres, and he’s been out with a knee injury for 3 weeks.

Basically, Cody remains what he was when he left: a gifted offensive player whose skating and backchecking problems would send the blood pressure of a defensive-minded coach like Alain Vigneault through the roof. Like the kids in Edmonton, Hodgson can score, but he can’t yet outscore his defensive deficiencies, and he’s not ready to star on a contender at this point.

Consider Cody’s output the past week: with the Sabres’ quest to make the playoffs currently hanging in the balance, Buffalo has lost 2 of 3 and nearly 3 of 3, surrendering 14 goals. Hodgson has been on the ice for 9 of them. You can’t tell me that’s helpful right now.

Here’s a video of one of the 9, and you can get a pretty good picture of where the young centre continues to struggle at the NHL level: backchecking. That’s Hodgson, wearing no. 19 at the left side of the screen.

Hodgson is beaten up the ice by nearly everyone. Worse, he stops skating at the blue line, then makes a vain attempt to take away a passing lane. Were he to continue skating, he might have been able to disrupt Clarke MacArthur dipsy-doodling into the middle of the zone.

Now, in Hodgson’s defence, he was at the end of a minute-long shift. But a backcheck like that gets you stapled to Alain Vigneault’s bench without qualification.

All this said, Hodgson is undoubtedly contributing more than Zack Kassian, but let’s not forget that Kassian isn’t the player that replaced Hodgson on the third line. That’s Samme Pahlsson, and here’s where things get interesting.

Since the trade, Pahlsson has been on the ice for the same amount of goals as Hodgson at even-strength: 7. However, rather than watch the red light go on 13 times, Pahlsson has only been on the ice for 5 even-strength goals against.

Furthermore, Pahlsson is boasting a Fenwick rating of exactly 50%, and this is more impressive than it sounds: consider that Pahlsson’s line has been playing against top lines and eating up defensive zone starts. Adjusted for these zone starts, Pahlsson’s Fenwick is actually 58%. In effect, match the Swedish centre up against the best forwards in the league and he’ll win the shift more often than not. The same cannot be said for Hodgson.

Thus, the Hodgson trade isn’t quite the fleecing it appears to be — at least not yet. Heading into the playoffs, Mike Gillis was able to do what you do in the Legend of Zelda: turn a weak Link into something that can go up against the most powerful enemies in the land. And that’s a win.

s/t to Thom Drance for doing my math.

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88 comments

  1. tj
    April 4, 2012

    Enter the raging Cody-supporters…

    (I wonder: how many of the pro-Cody folk are anti-Lu. Is there a correlation? Amongst the younger fans I know, they rage about the CoHo trade, and seethe at Luongo’s every miscue.)

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    Rating: +28 (from 32 votes)
    • bergberg
      April 5, 2012

      Hey now, I’m a “younger” fan (or maybe I’m in denial). I always support our #1 guy, Bobby Lou, and saw the logic in the CoHo trade. My father is the opposite.

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      Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
    • Phileo99
      April 5, 2012

      I’m in quite the minority, as I’m Pro CoHo, pro Lou.
      I would tend to agree with your implication that the majority of fans are pro CoHo, Pro Schneids.

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      • Showbot
        April 5, 2012

        I don’t think you have to be Pro-Schneider and Anti-Luongo, or vice versa.

        I maintain the fact that we have two great goalies who will benefit from a proper tandem schedule, and that the HodgePodge trade made sense.

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  2. Josh
    April 4, 2012

    This is a perfect example of why I do not bother, outside of a few exceptions, reading much anything from mainstream media outlets. Guaranteed, the guys there will look at Kassian and Hodgson’s numbers, completely ignoring Pahlsson and the defensive implications between Pahlsson/Hodgson, and declare the deal a massive loss for the Canucks. Either a) they’re stupid, b) they’re lazy, or c) they’d rather pitch an idea that will get people all riled up and angry rather than provide an honest, thorough, and thoughtful analysis of a situation, which says a lot about what passes for journalistic integrity these days.

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  3. Cody
    April 4, 2012

    Your absolutely right. Cody’s skating speed has always been a glaring weakness and until his offense offsets this, or he improves his skating, he is a liability on a playoff bound team

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  4. Phileo99
    April 4, 2012

    So the Hodgson trade was not a fleecing because Pahlsson has better Fenwick numbers. The problem with that argument is that the Canucks did not trade Hodgson away for Pahlsson. Yes in the bigger picture, Pahlsson “equalized” the deal, but the fact of the matter is, the Canucks traded Sulzer/Hodgson for MAG/Kassian. In terms of that trade alone, to say that it was a fleecing doesn’t even begin to scratch the tip of the iceberg.
    I have all along said that CoHo’s trade market value is worth more than a Kassian/MAG.
    Pahlsson was a nice pickup, but that does not diminish the fact that the Canucks got completely, absolutely, utterly, and most sincerely fleeced by Buffalo.

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    • khr
      April 4, 2012

      It’s too early to say one way or another but your point is well-taken. If analyzing the trade itself, bringing Pahlsson into the mix is moot. They could have acquired Pahlsson and benched Hodgson and got the same defensive upgrade and improved Fenwick rating.

      Time will as Kassian is still a puppy and might evolve into a nasty power forward. He shows signs but isn’t there yet. I seriously doubt Hodgson will ever be a defensive player as he’s small and slow. He’s all offense and we’ll have to see what kind of numbers he puts up over time.

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      • Fuzzysheep
        April 5, 2012

        Well they could’ve have brought in Pahlsson and kept Hodgson but then Hodgson would be wasted with even more limited ice time. Knowing this, it makes sense to move Hodgson when his value is high ie. after a landmark month offensively and before his defensive liabilities become well known.

        If we’d brought in yet another centre and not made room for him Hodgson would have stagnated which wouldn’t be fair for him or the organisation.

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    • peanutflower
      April 4, 2012

      Well, unless you have a hardcopy of the negotiating paperwork or a recording of GMMG’s call to the Sabres confirming that Pahlsson was a throw-in, or a throw away by the Sabres, how can you conclusively say that the Canucks only traded for Kassian? It would be pretty naive to think that Gillis knew nothing about Pahlsson and simply accepted him as a toss in. I mean, I basically only watch the Canucks games and even I know that Pahlsson is a good defensive player, so surely Canuck scouting must have rated Pahlsson’s abilities higher than just a throw in, right? Tomas Gradin would surely have known that at the very least. Also, it would be pretty naive to think that the Canucks weren’t aware of Kassian’s lack of experience. To make sure a comment as yours pretty much says that GMMG had tunnel vision and all he wanted was Kassian, which seems fairly silly on the surface, right? I agree with Harrison’s argument on this one, and go even further to say that there was just something rotten and off-putting with Hodgson and his whole entourage, and that surely is a distraction the Canucks don’t need in the playoffs. To be honest, I was never one of Hodgson’s supporters so from a purely personal perspective I think that while the Canucks may have lost some offensive firepower (albeit scoring what would have been riding the bench during the playoffs most likely, as will Kassian no doubt) they ended up on the right side of the trade. Who knows what Kassian will turn into? The Canucks have a pretty god track record of being able to nurture young players so it should be interesting. And the most compelling argument I think is that the Canucks are in the playoffs. The Sabres, hmm, maybe not.

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      • D to the W
        April 4, 2012

        Pahlsson didn’t come from Buffalo, he came from Columbus. The trade was Hodgson and Sulzer for Kassian and Gragnani.

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      • Joan
        April 4, 2012

        Pahlsson came in from the Blue Jackets not the Sabres. The spare (if you will) on the Kassian/Cody trade was Gragnani.

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    • obituary mambo
      April 7, 2012

      In my opinion, fans would be ill advised in failing to take into account the toxic locker room presence a dissatisfied Hadgeson could very easily have become. Better to ship him out than to allow him to become a distraction.

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  5. RG
    April 4, 2012

    PITB, making other NHL fanblogs look stupid since…?

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  6. Brent
    April 4, 2012

    Two things:
    1. Pahlsson was a separate “trade” we got him for two 4th round draft picks. But I guess you are considering it part of the same transaction.
    2. You didn’t consider MAG, who we also got for Cody.

    I still think just comparing Cody to Kassian and MAG we will probably come out ahead in the long run. Just that the two of them may not be major contributors to this years playoff run, but we can hope. Kassian seemed to be more effective the last few games, MAG not so much last game. The main factor I think is that Cody (or his Dad) wanted out of here. Can’t force someone to stay and not have it affect the room. So I think that had a lot to do with Gillis pulling the trigger.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      April 4, 2012

      Sulzer has 8 points since his acquisition. If we’re going to consider everyone, let’s consider the guy who actually has benefited the most out of the trade.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        April 4, 2012

        Yeah, I didn’t feel like getting into the D-men since that’s a completely different ball of wax, but Sulzer’s run has been impressive. I doubt it’ll last, but it’s still good to see.

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        • Tomas
          April 5, 2012

          I always thought Sulzer played solid if unspectacular defence (I never really looked at the underlying numbers to see if it was in fact true and even then very small sample size applies) in the few games he did get in Vancouver, but it was clear he was the very last option.

          He’s logged a lot of minutes for Buffalo and been a big surprise there which makes me happy that he got a real shot somewhere.

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      • Phileo99
        April 4, 2012

        Sulzer/Hodgson: 13pts, collectively -8
        MAG/Kassian: 3pts, collectively -3

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        • Chris the Curmudgeon
          April 4, 2012

          Sorry, but Sulzer + Hodgson have 16 points collectively, -6, whereas Kassian and MAG have 6 points combined, and yes -3.

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      • Brent
        April 5, 2012

        Wow I hadn’t been following Sulzer, and didn’t realize. So if he is doing so well why did we never play him? Another one of AV’s doghouse boys?

        Have to be happy for Sulzer, probably wouldn’t have got much ice time here, glad to hear he is doing well in his new digs.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 5, 2012

          Sulzer is on a nice little hot streak, but I wouldn’t count on him continuing that for any length of time. He wasn’t terrible when he was in Vancouver, but he wasn’t particularly good either. He had some chances to play, but didn’t make the most of them with the Canucks, but he is making the most of them with the Sabres. I wish him well, but I’m still sceptical.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          April 5, 2012

          He’s doing so well because Buffalo’s defense corps sucks, especially right now. First, unlike the Canucks’ deeper group, Sulzer could break into it easily from the outset. As bad as Robyn Regehr’s been, Sulzer even arrived ahead of him on the depth chart. Second, Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff have both been injured, bumping Sulzer up to top pairing minutes with Jordan Leopold. And the team has been brutal defensively since — he’s just put up some points.

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          • Tomas
            April 5, 2012

            He did play full time paired with Ehrhoff after the first game or two following the trade before either of Ehrhoff or Myers got injured. Not that that in itself says much.

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          • J21
            April 5, 2012

            If Buffalo’s defensive depth was so weak, then, you wonder if their 7th defenseman was really an ideal pickup for the Canucks in the Hodgson trade.

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            • Harrison Mooney
              April 5, 2012

              That’s really neither here nor there. The Canucks saw a guy that they felt wasn’t being used properly and took a gamble on him. He was hardly tagged as a top-four solution for this year.

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  7. Chris the Curmudgeon
    April 4, 2012

    I agree that Pahlsson is playing much better defensively than that 4th round pick he was acquired for. Cody Hodgson is playing more minutes than he ever has, which takes a little bit of adjustment. He’s also been winning faceoffs for Buffalo, and his shooting percentage is way down, which our boy Drance would probably tell us means a regression towards the mean will eventually bring his scoring up a little bit. And none of that changes the fact that CoHo 5 years from now is a lot more promising than Mama Kass.

    I’m also going to point out that Alex Sulzer has 3-5-8 since the trade.

    Terrible terrible trade, now and for the future.

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    • Josh D.
      April 4, 2012

      Kassian being the most promising power forward prospect in the league means nothing? You have no assurances that Cody’s offensive abilities will ever compensate for the fact that he’s lazy defensively.

      You kneejerkers.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        April 4, 2012

        Not sure he’s lazy so much as he’s just not very good at it because of his lack of footspeed. Time will tell. For this year, however, taking Hodgson out of the lineup has improved the Canucks.

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        • Josh D.
          April 4, 2012

          Lazy wasn’t the best word, but I still believe that Cody won’t be the superstar he’s projected to be if he can’t pull up that end of the game. Am I making sense? I just got off work and my brain is fried. X|

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        April 4, 2012

        Kassian the best power forward prospect in the league? That’s news to me.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 5, 2012

          Hockey News had him as the 13th best prospect in the NHL. So, yes, best power forward prospect in the league.

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          • jim
            April 5, 2012

            The players ahead of Kassian:

            -Evgeny Kuznetsov
            -Mikael Granlund
            -Jonathan Huberdeau
            -Dougie Hamilton
            -Mika Zibanejad
            -Vladimir Tarasenko
            -Mark Scheifele
            -Jacob Markstrom
            -Ryan Strome
            -Brandon Gormley
            -Ryan Ellis
            -Jonas Brodin

            None of those players are Power Forwards. Considering that a Power Forward takes the longest to develop, due the fact most men don’t grow into their bodies until 22-23, and add on some time getting used to having 30 extra pounds of muscle, Kassian is a project.

            The Canucks have been lacking a power forward since Bertuzzi left, and I think GMMG saw his opportunity with Kassian. The Canucks scouted Kassian, and if Kassian turns out to be the player they hope he can become, then all of a sudden we have an extra prong on our attack. Cody isn’t as offensively talented as Henrik, and is as strong defensively as Kesler, and lacked the breakout speed required for a top 6 winger. Simply put, long term, there was no place for a player like Hodgson. We do, however, have a great need for a player like KAssian, if he turns into the power forward he’s projected to become.

            Now, I will echo the statements of other commenters when I say that I think Gillis should have shopped him around a bit more. I thought the Canucks needed a top 4 defenceman to play with Edler when Salo is down/looking slow, and Gragnani doesn’t fit the bill. In hindsight, trading Hodgson was a good move by Gillis – I think a lot of fans just disagree with what he got in return.

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  8. Alex
    April 4, 2012

    I’m no editor, but I sure am a follower of your blogs Harisson, I can safely say this is your worst piece of writing.

    Factoring in the Pahlsson trade to try and justify the CoHo trade is a very weak, and non applicable point.

    The biggest games of the season this year have been against Detroit and Boston. Check the scoreboard and find that CoHo won the game vs Boston and tied it against Detroit (Feb 23).

    Say what you will, but with CoHo the Canucks always had a scoring line, and an excellent fourth line checking line. With the exception of last night’s game, the Canucks are having troubles finding the back of the net. Vancouver traded a stellar young CENTER (usually highly sought after) for a player that is only being utilized on the FOURTH LINE! What the heck? How does that make any sense? If they planned on using Kassian on at least the second (and not bambi legs Raymond), fine, the trade makes sense, but Kassian is hardly seeing 7 (under 10) minutes of ice time per game.

    How does that make sense for a team contending for the cup? If your going to make a trade for the sake of making a trade, do it in the offseason, don’t change your team’s identity before the playoffs.

    You may think the Canucks are fine, but the recent wins should be largely credited to Chris Higgins, who’s found a way to put it in the net unlike the rest of the team.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 4, 2012

      Worst piece of writing? Ouch.

      You’re lucky a guy told me to die of Aids once, or I’d take offense to that. ;-)

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      • Alex
        April 4, 2012

        I’m assuming it was a member of the media from Boston/Chicago?

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        • Cableguy
          April 5, 2012

          No. His dad.

          What?! I kid…I kid…!

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      • Brent
        April 5, 2012

        Worst piece of writing may be a little strong, but obviously one of your larger pieces of rationalization. As Jeff Goldbloom said in the Big Chill, it is hard to go a week without a rationalization.
        Canuck fans want this to be a good trade, but right now I would say the Sabres are the short term winners. I think everyone here would agree that Kassian has been somewhat underwhelming, but the hope is he will develop into a killer power forward. But I remind you that Byron Bitz just got called up. So what does Kassian bring to the table right now that Bitz doesn’t already have? I suspect we will see more of Bitz and less of Kassian come playoffs.

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        • CP
          April 5, 2012

          Gillis is a moneyball guy. Moneyball guys work the long term deals, and only bother with short term if there’s a buck to be made or none to be spent. Kassian has what the Canucks have long and desperately needed – he has heft. Ditto Gragnani. Hodgson, while nice, is a lightweight and doesn’t have the speed or agility for that not to matter. As he gets older, he’ll get slower, and he’ll eventually get shut down.
          Kassian and Gragnani are grinders and pounders. They’ll get bigger, stronger, more fearsome with experience. And they’ll help their teammates in ways that don’t get on scoresheets – by punishing anyone who tries to get dirty on them.
          Even if you discount Harrison’s opinions above and assume the Sabres made out better on the deal, ask yourself where that will sit next year, and the year after that. We’ve long complained of the Canucks’ lack of grit, and they now have two young, cheap, high upside monsters in the making. Buffalo has a kid who can’t skate, doesn’t throw himself into D and, while he can hit the net, hasn’t exactly been doing so on a daily basis for them since he showed up.
          Trades can only ever truly be judged in hindsight. This is not yet hindsight. Once we’re out of the small sample size zone, I’d bet my pay cheque the Canucks will smile wide.

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        • Zukuss
          April 5, 2012

          Seeing as Kassian is injured, I’d suspect that you’re right about Bitz.

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          • Brent
            April 5, 2012

            How bad is the injury? There is nothing on the Canucks page so I assumed it was not serious.

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  9. Alex
    April 4, 2012

    *Pardon some grammatical mistakes and the sentence that makes it seem like I was implying the third line was the only scoring line on the Canucks when CoHo was here**

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    • obituary mambo
      April 7, 2012

      What actually struck me more was your implication that the Canucks would have lost those games to Boston and Detroit were it not for Coho, when it’s every bit as likely someone else would have stepped up in those situations. The coulda woulda shoulda game is always a dangerous one.

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  10. Josh
    April 4, 2012

    Through 81 games this year, in his rookie season, Cody’s statline:
    19 G 22A 41P. 0 +/-

    Another player, in an 81-game rookie season, put up the following statline:
    11 G 34A 45 P. 0 +/-

    Anybody want to guess who the second player is?

    Kyle Wellwood.

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  11. Square Ball
    April 4, 2012

    I know this is not related to this article at all, but I think it will interest at least one, maybe two of you out there. Somebody was asking a couple of days ago if the Northwest is just weak, or if the Canucks are too strong. Actually, Daniel wrote an article on the Canucks needing a stronger division.
    A spreadsheet was made, and here are some of the conclusions (I looked at all teams in the NW, at their games played between each other, and their games played against non-division rivals):
    - If all games were against non division rivals (i.e. multiply the average amount of points per game against non-division rivals by 82 games), the Canucks would get to 105 points and Colorado to 103. Minnesota would be next with 82.
    - If all games were against division rivals, the Canucks would get to 130 points, and Calgary to 111. Colorado would only reach an abysmal 62 points. Basically, Colorado is not going to reach the playoffs because they did not win enough games against division rivals (as Chris the Curmudgeon already pointed out in his comment to “The Canucks need a strong Northwest Division”.
    - Minnesota and Edmonton would both have around 80 and 75 points each, respectively, if they only played against division rivals. The same would happen if they only played against non-division rivals (i.e. they were just as bad against NW rivals as they were against the rest of the league).
    Just thought I’d throw those numbers out there…

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  12. Gimmic
    April 4, 2012

    Ya, agree with poster above. The Canucks did not trade Pahlsson for Hodgson, so the comparison is not just. But it’s good to see Hodgys defensive issues through numbers – personally I this his lack of speed will be an issue in a wide open Eastern Conference. In the west, it’s mostly tight checking – perhaps complementing a slower skater.

    It was always hard to see what Hodgys long term role would be w/ Canucks, but I’m still more angry about the timing/lack of competition with this trade. In 1 foul swoop, one trade, you chance the system of your team 1 month before playoffs start. There’s a risk that this ‘new’ system won’t work, or that you shock the culture in the dressing room. Also, why in the name of Pierre Gauthier did Gills not shop Hodgson. I mean seriously, it irks me the most. As as MBA I can not fathom for the love of pizza why he didn’t create competition for Hodgy. You have a valuable asset for any NHL team (centre) who’s coming off a rookie of the month title and no GMs know he’s available?!? How the macaroni and cheese can you determine market value for this asset if you don’t shop and see what he’s worth. Answer: You can’t. Therefore, you’ve potentially sold an asset at below market value. Uhhh. This is a case study in itself.

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    • Anonymous
      April 5, 2012

      Your last paragraph is basically the only issue I have with this trade. I just don’t understand it, probably never will (unless…Gillis…wanna clear this up?) Also I feel like I must use ‘why in the name of Pierre Gauthier’ in my life.

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    • CP
      April 5, 2012

      The reason he didn’t create a competition for Hodgson was he didn’t want any old plus or a handful of low draft picks. He wanted grinders. He wanted the best young undervalued grinders in the game. And he got them for a kid who can’t check. Score.

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    • obituary mambo
      April 7, 2012

      My apologies, but there is absolutely no forgiving the “one *foul* swoop” comment. Also, how are we to know which teams GMMG approached regarding shopping Coho and which he didn’t? Do you have the knowledge the rest of us lack or are you merely psychic?

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  13. rsm
    April 4, 2012

    Any particular reason for not bringing up the cap hit implications as well? CoHo needs a new contract after this season whereas Kassian is still on his entry level deal for another year. This matters.

    The on-ice results of this deal won’t be known for years. The cap effects and team structure implications are pretty obvious, and I think that is the place Vancouver obviously benefited.

    Whether or not MG could have gotten more for CoHo is something I’m not qualified to speak on, one would assume so if he could have gotten a bidding war going. The flip-side is that MG clearly sold high, as it’s unlikely that CoHo would have seen that much playoff time outside of the PP. Pahlsson still takes his ES center time.

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  14. Snepsts
    April 5, 2012

    Good analysis. The trade deadline is best analyzed in bulk. Kassian has potential, both as a future offensive threat or as future “power forward” trade-bait once developed a little (cp. Pyatt, Bernier). Pahlsson was the genius move and deserves a write-up of his own. Hodgson had no future in Vancouver; plus we had the depth to trade him for Kass and Grags even with the playoffs looming. Ultimately I think this trade was for Grags, and future trade-bait in Kassian, who doesn’t really fill a role on this team, but with a little development should be worth a decent second or third line winger in the next couple of years. I would be surprised if he were still part of the team next year in the playoffs, but maybe Gillis knows something I don’t.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      April 5, 2012

      Yeah, guys who you have to play at least 10 games to keep them from group 6 free agency are totally worth trading your best prospect for.

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      • CP
        April 5, 2012

        Best prospect?
        What’s up, Schneid.

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  15. Anonymous
    April 5, 2012

    Yeah sorry I’m going to have to politely disagree with this article here, Harrison.

    I’m bringing up the SabreNoise piece because you linked to it and that’s what it seems like you’re counterpointing by writing this. From Buffalo’s perspective at this current moment, it is a fleecing. Buffalo doesn’t care that we acquired Pahlsson from Columbus or whatever or that he’s doing a bang up defensive job, or that we’re fighting for the Presidents’ Trophy, or even if we win the cup this year and all the years to come. They don’t care what Mike Gillis has done to improve us. That doesn’t matter for them when considering this Hodgson-Sulzer for Kassian-Gragnani trade. At this particular moment in time, which is what they’re talking about, Sulzer and Hodgson have been playing well and contributing, making the team better (Sulzer especially) in a bigger way than Gragnani and Kassian have. I do agree with you in that Hodgson has problems in his game like all rookies that need to be worked on (and it’s safer for our team to have Pahlsson etc), and I’m sure the unexpected trade and gelling with a new team/organization/linemates for the first few weeks affected him somewhat, but he has been contributing while dealing with more minutes than he’s used to. Buffalo fans have a reason to have seen his body of work so far and be pleased/optimistic,

    Now Sulzer, he is a biiiig part of this. I’ve watched Sulzer play and he has actually been quite good and dependable. It’s nice to see him doing so well considering no one gave him a second thought during this Hodgson hullabaloo. He has been eating up minutes like a champ, scoring, and basically thriving in his new place. His importance in this trade, while overlooked at the beginning, is getting bigger and bigger for the Buffalo contingent.

    The fact that you didn’t get into the D-men info seems like a way of pushing away other stuff to make a point. I’m assuming you wanted to write this in order to talk about the Hodgson/Pahlsson angle and I get that (it makes perfect sense from the perspective of Canucks fan being rational about our line ups, Buffalo fans don’t need to think about our line ups) but from the title I was expecting a trade analysis! How dare you mislead me good sir! A pox on your house!

    I know you guys have been on the “calm down guys Hodgson was not the second coming” train for awhile since the trade and I’m sure you feel like you have to state it and push on the other side because of the Canucks fan contingent/Hodgson fanatics banging on the door acting like the sky is falling whenever he scores a goal and Kassian plays 8 mins a game and is a minus 2 but I feel like it’s a bit hard to base your rebuttle of the Sabre perspective on the Pahlsson stuff, that’s all.

    —Main Point for the tl;drs:
    From the way they’ve played up to this very moment since being traded, the new Buffalo players are contributing positively (and leading to wins) more than the new Vancouver players. Considering this, and who exactly Buffalo had to give up (they were not too attached to Kassian yet and loathed Gragnani) it’s easy to see why it seems like a great trade for them right now. They’re getting the best play out of the deal, their players are making more of a positive impact. It’s irrelevant for them who’s taking the defensive zone faceoffs for the Canucks or what it means for Kesler etc. If you had to be objective, do you think the former!Sabres are currently outplaying the former!Canucks? That’s essentially why people are calling this a fleece.

    Do I think it’s shortsighted to call this a fleece or even trade, right now a month into it? Hell yes I do. We won’t know how this trade’s worked out for both teams until the players have moved on/retired, honestly. But I mean, PITB pretty much called the Booth trade a fleecing 5 seconds after it was announced ;) so I think Buffalo fans can be excused for feeling good about this trade after seeing their new players’ positive results and noting that we haven’t gotten the same back (it can also be doubly excused [how gleeful they are] seeing how Sulzer’s been performing vs MAG considering how much they hated MAG.)

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    • Anonymous
      April 5, 2012

      Correction: article intro, not title. Still, a pox on your house!

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  16. Anonymous
    April 5, 2012

    Now onto the actual article content! I have been raving (in my head) about the steady quiet guys who take the brunt of the heavy work and do it well, see Hamhuis/Salo and yep, Pahlsson. He has been great for us so far and I’m super excited for what he can do in the playoffs (less than a week left!)

    This perspective is for the current playoffs, and not considering how good/bad Hodgson/Sulzer/Kassian/Gragnani will be in the future, so I’m not considering all the future points we’ve lost by trading Cody away or anything like that.

    I do think post trade-line we got stronger. Especially considering what a slog the WC is, it’s good to have guys like Pahlsson making life hard for the opposing team. I think Pahlsson’s style will benefit us in the playoffs more than Hodgson’s. Our team should *fingers crossed* be able to make up for the offensive loss of Hodgson, it’s harder to make up for a defensive loss like Pahlsson. This team at it’s best should give everyone a run for their money. Will we get this team at it’s best? We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Did we HAVE to trade Hodgson in order to make room for Pahlsson? I don’t think so, but maybe that’s me being idealistic and naive.

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    • stathead
      April 5, 2012

      The Pahlsson trade was a super duper trade! Can’t believe how that guy is underpinning so much success.

      People say it isn’t fair to compare because we gained Pahlsson in a different trade than we lost CoHo, but the fact is more time for CoHo would have meant less time with Pahlsson on the ice, as well as LaPierre and Kesler (who are both proven huge assets in playoffs) besides Manny, and the Sedins who are a brilliant first line (some say not as great in the playoffs, but I think they’re more physical this year, and that it depends what teams we’ll get matched up against & could work out really well.)

      So I don’t know how to assess the trade at this stage, but I’d rather have Pahlsson than CoHo on the ice for sure, especially going into the playoffs. Because Pahlsson is awesome sauce Swedish style.

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  17. Peps
    April 5, 2012

    How the hell do you think you can decide whether a trade is a fleece or not after a few months!?
    In a couple of years my GUESS is that Van will have a beast of a player in Kassian and Buffalo will have a player who will score some, backcheck nada and with a personality that clearly think there is an I in TEAM.
    Or they have both quit hockey.
    Who knows?

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      April 5, 2012

      Spoken like a completely objective, entirely unbiased non-partisan NHL fan.

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      • Peps
        April 5, 2012

        Not to mention – a Rangers fan ! Yeey Rags.

        But ok, not completely unbiased;
        I´ve always liked Påhlsons game, here in Sweden as well as on your side of the Pond – a really good player. And the twins are amazing to watch when they (very often!)peak – even though Im more a fan of Forsbergs style of play. Gawd I miss him ! “¤&¤”# foot !
        Sammies playoff with the Ducks their SC-year was huge. Huuuge.
        I´m just a softie for good defence I guess …. !
        So yes – I like the Nucks and much more this season than before as the team seem to have sort of grown up and the players looks calmer, more certain of themselves out there on the ice.

        But regardless of how I feel for the Nucks – every trade where a player rumoured to be high maintenance gets traded away for a player that are not; a W.
        Speaking of Me1-players – Flames-fans are still lol-ing over the Phaneuf garage-sale to Toronto.
        Leaf-fans not so much as they are collectively and truculently moving into Pitchfork&Torch-mode as a reaction over this season.

        And Greetings from Sweden !

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      • obituary mambo
        April 7, 2012

        Surely you can’t deny that Hodgeson’s me-first attitude was potentially problematic. Doing so would be dishonest at best.

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  18. Dave
    April 5, 2012

    Lovely analysis, easy to read also. Big ups to Mr Drance!!

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  19. akidd
    April 5, 2012

    well, glad i don’t have to come on here and point out the flaws in the kassian(but really paulsson)vs hodgson argument. with a vid of him gassed after a minute-long shift for effect.

    it wasn’t even a hockey trade. hodgson’s camp obviously demanded out a couple of years ago after the back-injury debacle and gillis made a deal (preferred team? close to home?)with them to wait until he could recoup some value for him. kassian came up and he took it. hodgson was never going to be a canuck for long but the team couldn’t just come out and say it.

    gillis did a lot better than he would have if hodgson had publically demanded a trade back when av was calling him out. and hodgson did better for his image and rep. that seems the most plausible explanation.

    it had to happen and considering the alternative after the completely botched early ‘development’ of hodgson(decision to tack on a long playoff run with the moose after an already grueling season; subsequent injury in first week of training with canucks; canuck doctor misdiagnoses; av publically saying the injured hodgson was just making excuses)gillis did very well.

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  20. JDM
    April 5, 2012

    Basically, update: I do not like the trade any more than I did when it was made. The Canucks are good without Hodgson just as they were good with him. I do not think they are necessarily as good. Kassian has not made them a better team nor is he a liability, but outside of the last couple of games, he has had a bad run of… well basically irrelevance. When Daniel comes back, he may be scratched unless he makes a more consistent positive impact. Ebbett is pretty versatile. I’m not even sure Kassian should be above Weise on the depth chart at this point.

    My main point remains that in overtime in some cruicial game a few weeks from now, we will be looking for someone to step up and win the game. It would surprise me very much if Kassian ended up being that guy. It would not surprise me very much if Hodgson were, had MG kept him.

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  21. Lukas Menstrator
    April 5, 2012

    Calling a trade involving two very young players a fleecing either way has the potential to put some major egg on faces in the next few years.

    Looking at it from a present perspective its not even that bad.
    -Hodgson’s ‘camp’ asked for a trade twice
    -Hodgson was going to be on the 4th line or in the press box once again in the playoffs.
    -His line would have been pretty much unplayable in road games since they would be matched against other teams top lines.
    -On the flip side, Kassian is able to play on any line. While he is also somewhat of a defensive liability at this point, as a winger he has less responsibility and is protected by being able to play with one of our three great defensive centers.
    -Kassian is a player built for the playoffs. He has the potential to take over a series physically, whether he ever does it is of course dependent on him.
    -Hodgson was never going to be more than the third line center in Vancouver. Kassian has the potential to develop into a top 6 player.

    In the end if two years from now Hodgson is a 30-30 player and Kassian is a physical 20-20 player, I would consider the trade a good one for the Canucks. For me it will be a bad trade if Hodgson consistently puts up 70+ points and Kassian isn’t a consistent 20 goal, 40 point guy.

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    • Anonymous
      April 5, 2012

      I’m still confused about this. Didn’t Winter specifically say they never asked for a trade? It was only ice-time discussions? Where are people getting that he requested to be moved?

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      • Johannes
        April 5, 2012

        Pressing for more ice time a couple days before the trade deadline, with two superior centers who would inevitably get less ice time, is just a subtle (or not so subtle) demand for a trade. He didn’t need to come out and demand a trade, he pushed for more ice time with the perfectly reasonable expectation of getting traded. Its not like he could reasonably expect to take ice time away from either Kesler or Henrik after all. The conclusion is inescapable: Hodgson wanted out.

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      • stathead
        April 5, 2012

        Winter also admitted later that they actually did ask for a trade. Hard to find a kind way to put it – Winter is kind of all over the place and not the most grounded individual, judging from his recent rant against this blog.

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  22. J21
    April 5, 2012

    Once news came out about the more-or-less trade request from the Hodgson camp, any attempt to decide whether it was a “good trade” or not sort of went out the window, much as we knew Brian Burke would likely never get top value back for Pavel Bure, for example. In both cases you try to do the best you can, and for Gillis that meant selling high, even if he wasn’t going to have a full opportunity to shop Hodgson as much as he might have.

    (I don’t think Gillis really wanted to auction off Hodgson loudly because that’s a sign that something has gone wrong and/or Hodgson is problematic somehow — this could affect offers, although the added competition would probably offset that, but it also is quite player-unfriendly, I think, considering that the Hodgson camp wanted to keep everything on the down-low and likely deal with it after the season, and it could send a bad signal to future players).

    All that said, though, what still gets me is the defenseman swap. No one could have foreseen that Sulzer would suddenly become the next Aaron-Rome-from-his-first-few-games-this-year, but all the warning signs were there that Gragnani was not the ideal pickup for the Canucks, and he hasn’t done a ton to disspel that notion. Vigneault should be harder on him than Ballard (but won’t be because of the personal history). The fact that Sulzer is also becoming a key cog for Buffalo makes it harder to swallow, I guess.

    So yeah, the Canucks couldn’t be expected to make a great trade in the circumstances, so no surprise that the Sabres are enjoying the return, but I still wish Gillis had tried to get a bit more on defense.

    And I agree with (1) everyone saying that Påhlsson is irrelevant here, since he wasn’t part of the trade and the Canucks had already acquired him prior to it; and (2) Anonymous, when he notes that Buffalo shouldn’t care about the Canucks’ circumstances outside of the trade when proclaiming victory. Canuck fans all loved the Ehrhoff-for-White trade because it landed them a quasi-star defenseman for free. The Sharks made the trade to clear up cap space, not because they wanted White. Doesn’t stop us from declaring victory, though.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 5, 2012

      I’m choosing to go off this comment because I think it sums up what’s happening in the reaction to this piece.

      There are a ton of different things to consider in the Hodgson trade that I didn’t bring up for the sake of brevity: the D for D swap; the fact that Cody asked for the trade; the long-term ramifications; the different situations of the teams, etc., etc. All of that is pertinent, but not really at the heart of this post.

      This post is just about how the trade is working out for Vancouver. AV didn’t want Hodgson as his third line centre because he didn’t trust the kid to match up against anyone but soft competition, and the team didn’t want the headache that would have come with using him sparingly. Thus, they swapped him for a long-term prospect that could turn into the top-six power forward they crave (still on an ELC, for delicious cap reasons), and they replaced him with a centre that better fits the team. I’m not arguing that Buffalo lost the trade, because it would be crazy to say they did, especially when they seem very happy with what they got. But the Canucks are happy too, and you can see why they would be from what Hodgson has done defensively in Buffalo.

      As I said in the intro, you can’t claim the trade was a fleecing for either side just yet. But you can look at the early returns. According to those, the Sabres have gotten the points, but they’ve also seen Hodgson play a big role in big losses when they desperately needed wins. That’s fine for a bubble team who’s looking for signs that the future is bright, but for an elite contender, you can’t have a massive, exploitable flaw.

      I too wanted a top-four defenceman, but it seems like that’s what Chris Tanev is turning out to be, so whatever. As for Gragnani, that’s hard to say as well. He’s had a few incredible games where he’s looked like a potential top-four and a few stinkers where he’s looked like an eight. All to be expected for a D-man making his first foray into Western Conference play, not to mention he’s been playing anywhere and everywhere in the lineup.

      As for the other stuff: Sulzer wasn’t working out here. The change of scenery may have done him some good; it’s not like he was going to be the player he’s been in Buffalo in Vancouver. Still, I’d be careful freaking out over that. He’s playing insanely increased minutes with both Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers out of the lineup and in a desperate situation, and we’re talking about a very small sample size. Let’s wait and see how he does in the long-term. Recall that Nolan Baumgartner had a 34-point season in Vancouver when injuries necessitated an increase in his minutes. It was a mirage. He remains a career AHLer, and only time will tell if Sulzer is in a dissimilar position.

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      • stathead
        April 5, 2012

        Brevity? Aren’t you supposed to be a blogger? Back to blog school for you! Maybe Rich Winters can give you some tips on how real bloggers blog. (6000 words, kid. MINIMUM. And where are your references to weighty, serious books you’ve been reading? Where’s the anger, where’s the blame??)

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  23. Amor de Cosmos
    April 5, 2012

    I don’t particularly have dog in this fight but the one factor that hasn’t been discussed in the Nux/Sabres trade is that, since it happened, the clubs themselves are in very different situations. The Sabres have been battling for a playoff spot, the Nux haven’t. That makes a big difference, psychologically for all the players involved and strategically for the individual clubs. Kassian hasn’t needed to play big minutes, or tough ones. Gragnani, like all our defenceman, has being playing with a different partner almost every game. Hodgson and Sultzer had to hit high gear for the Sabres from the first minute of their first game, good for them if they’ve succeeded. Here, OTOH, for the past month or so we’ve been watching AV trying out new chess moves. We won’t really know how this trade has worked out until October/November when players and clubs are on the same mental, emotional and physical page.

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  24. Andre
    April 5, 2012

    I think the argument for-or-against cannot ignore the upcoming playoffs and free-agency. Circumstances forced GMMG to decide whether to keep him or trade him. Given the liability that he represented during the playoffs, Pahlsson (or equivalent) would be necessary, making Hodgson redundant. That’s the first half of the argument for trading him, as argued cogently in the article.

    The second half is the prospect for the future. Cody has proven his playmaking/scoring ability, but needs to improve the defensive side of his game (just as the Sedins had to, early in their careers). Kassian’s gifts are not as fully evident, but this does not mean that they are absent (and we have seen flashes of them). I find particularly galling the counter-argument that he is, at best, a fourth-liner. It’s like looking at Kesler when he started out and only seeing a Sammy Pahlsson in him.

    Kassian will flourish under the tutelage of our coaching staff and will prove his worth. Cody will also improve his defensive game. To me, a crystal ball can, at best, predict that part of the equation to be a draw.

    In the end, each player provides their respective teams a missing piece of the puzzle, with the difference that we need to maximize our present potential for a cup, while not forsaking our future prospects. In that light, the deal makes a ton of sense and is nowhere near the fleecing that is being claimed.

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  25. Amor de Cosmos
    April 5, 2012

    Yes, it’s worth remembering Kassian’s only 21, by far the youngest player on the squad, and over a year younger than Tanev who we all think of as being all peach fuzz and acne. He’s a puppy introduced into a mature pack whose alpha-dogs been playing together since they were drafted. It’s bound to take him a while to gain the requisite confidence and experience.

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    • Chicky
      April 5, 2012

      We all know that Kassian has the penchance for a decent playoff beard, whereas Tanev’s just looks itchy as hell. :)

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  26. Chicky
    April 5, 2012

    I’ll come out and say it, I suspect that CoHo wasn’t fitting well in the dressing room, and that for all the fodder that was blowing out from his Agent’s backside, there’s a LOT of smoke to that fire.

    Wanting more ice time when you’re a rookie, and are sharing the same space with some seriously ridiculous talent,that takes balls man. No matter what hands he has, he still needed to round out his game before he could justify that kind of chatter. I think that his agent did his dirty work , and helped get him to where he’d get more ice time.

    My pennies rubbeth together. Do I wish we’d see more from Kassian, sure, who wouldn’t, but you know what, I’m willing to give the kid a chance. If by this time next year CoHo’s game is stellar, and fully rounded out, and Kassian hasn’t a point, then I’ll pout.

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  27. Chris the Curmudgeon
    April 5, 2012

    Sorry, but a 20-year-old player’s agent asks for a trade, and that means you just have to accommodate him? Cody had given no indications of being a malcontent, and if Gillis had a spine, he would have told him they weren’t going to trade him, to be patient, and he’ll get his chance, full stop. Since when is “player asked for a trade” an automatic precursor to desperately shopping him around?

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    • Johannes
      April 5, 2012

      His repeated requests for more ice time are signs of being a malcontent. Once a player gets a reputation for wanting out his price drops. When a player who asks for more ice time and doesn’t get it finally straight up asks for a trade, what could Gillis do? Refuse? Watch as an asset decreases in value?

      And “desperately shopping him around?” Give me a break.

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  28. CP
    April 5, 2012

    How could they trade Naslund? He was the heart of the team and… oh.
    How could they trade Bernier! He was the heart of the team and… oh.
    How could they trade Wellwood He was the stomach of the team and… oh.
    How could they trade Bertuzzi! He was the fists of the team and… oh.

    Glass! Erhoff! Torres! Cloutier!

    Looking over the ten worst trades in Canucks history, it’s clear none of them have come in the last handful of years. This franchise consistently makes solid plus trades that turn out (when looked at more than three weeks after the fact) to favour us.

    Looked at another way, Maxim Lapierre is one of our best players in the last week. Will he be next week? If we traded him for a first round draft pick right now, would we be howling that we’d let one of our best guys go, or that we sold high yet again when he falls back to the pack and goes back to being a fourth line energy freak?
    Really, is there a single player the Canucks have let go in the last six years that you’d break an arm to get back? Anyone at all?

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    • stathead
      April 5, 2012

      Whose arm?

      ;) just kidding. No, I’m impressed with the very underrated talent these guys get. Pahlsson, Lapierre, and Higgins only a few of many great moves.

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  29. Mark in Steveston
    April 5, 2012

    I wonder how the Naslund-Stojanov trade looked 5 weeks after the fact?

    I’ll reserve judgement on Kass/MAG – CoHo/Sulz for a wee bit.

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    • J21
      April 5, 2012

      For the record, this is a bit of a poor example, considering that in this case the “project” power-forward was the guy the Canucks gave up, and didn’t turn into anything. So the early returns favoring the Canucks (Näslund was clearly a better player at that moment) continued to do so in a big way.

      Stojanov hilariously scored his first NHL goal in his first game as a Penguin, but (a) no Canuck fan fretted over that, and (b) Näslund also registered a hat trick for the Canucks at the end of the 1995-96 season when they acquired him.

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  30. jimjam22
    April 5, 2012

    I remember another young center of the Canucks considered too slow for the NHL and too poor defensively and on the backcheck in his first few seasons in the League. His name is Henrik Sedin. Am I comparing Cody to Hank?, no, just suggesting many gifted offensive players begin their careers with defensive liabilities but don’t finish them that way. Like others here I don’t necessarily disagree with the trade as Hodgson’s role on the team going forward was unclear, but the return gained seems questionable compared to what they might have been able to garner in the offseason having built a market for him. Even given that he came with the full “Lindros family package” that, understandably, no GM wants to contend with I wonder about Gillis’ thinking on this.

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  31. akidd
    April 5, 2012

    coho might not be a defensive stud now but proclaiming him to be a terrrible defensively forever after isn’t fair. he’s a rookie. the defensive side of the game takes longer. and just because av didn’t deploy him in defensive situations doesn’t mean he’s not good at defense. i’m guessing av was under orders to fluff coho’s stats for the inevitable trade.

    in junior coho played on the pk so i’m assuming he was at least average at defense for his age group. and showing that clip of coho gassed after a long shift was hardly fair.,not that i expect ‘fair’. i’ve also seen good little bursts of speed from him. not sure if he wouldn’t win a footrace with hank or dan.

    and you can say the canucks are better with coho out of the lineup but you could also look at the last 7 games and say the canucks are better without daniel in the lineup. you can do anything with small smaple groups. as far as defensive liabilities go i haven’t seen the sedin line hemmed in its own zone for about…7 games.

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  32. Charles
    April 6, 2012

    As a Sabres fan, I’d make this trade again in a heartbeat. Look at it, rationalize it, however you want, but (1) Hodgson was a fantastic addition to the Sabres, and (2) the Sabres got him for free. Hodgson has flashed brilliance and has shown that he can be a #1 or #2 for the Sabres. As fans, we can’t wait to see what a year in the system does for him. Kassian is already forgotten. He was nothing but unfulfilled promise and has already been outshown by Foligno who has done everything Kassian was reputed to be able to do but never did.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 6, 2012

      You know Kassian only played 27 games for the Sabres, right?

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  33. JanBanan
    April 6, 2012

    I think it’s honestly too early to judge the trade, but if Kassian performs the way that Gillis wants him to in the playoffs, I can’t see why this trade wouldn’t be considered a win. The move was made based on the apparent requests from Hodgson’s camp, and the fact that someone, somewhere (or everyone, everywhere) felt that the team needed a little more size to get that much farther in the post season.
    My only worry with Kassian is that he 1. slows down and shows up to training camp Byfuglien sized, and 2. that he becomes the stock enforcer. He’s young and impressionable, and I don’t want to see Vancouver using the cue of “increasing physicality” to turn their new rookie into a full time fighter.

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  34. Nucks on the Pond
    April 17, 2012

    Yeah getting Kassian to toughen up for the playoff push was genius! Great trade by Gillis. The dude just makes great deals all the time, like signing Marc Sturm, or trading Grabner and a first rounder for Ballard.

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