The real winner in the Cody Hodgson trade was Alexander Sulzer

A quick perusal of the comments section on our recent Cody Hodgson trade post shows that it wasn’t quite well-received. There were two predominant criticisms: 1) Cody Hodgson is God, and 2) Alex Sulzer is twice as God. I suspect there’s no convincing those of you who espouse the former, so let’s jump straight to the latter.

Several people objected to my (conscious) choice to ignore the back half of the deal, the D-for-D swap of Alexander Sulzer for Marc-Andre Gragnani. After all, this part looks like a massive win for Buffalo as well. Sulzer has been the most prolific scorer of the four men moved, with 9 points in 15 games and 5 points in his last 3. Who in the Sam Hill saw that coming?

Canuck fans are up in arms. You’d think Sulzer was dipped in the River Styx on his way to Buffalo. But if he was, someone was holding him by his defence.

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Marc-Andre Gragnani’s not bad; he’s just misunderstood

Marc-Andre Gragnani is on a three-game point streak, but you wouldn’t know it from the chilly reception he’s receiving of late from the Canucks faithful. To be fair, Gragnani is coming off his worst game as a Canuck on Tuesday against the Ducks. He was on the ice for 3 of the Ducks’ 4 goals and 2 of those goals came as a direct consequence of his defensive gaffes.

It could even be argued that if it weren’t for Gragnani, the Vancouver goalie controversy wouldn’t have been reignited, and the fact that he did it right after Alexander Sulzer posted a three-point night for Buffalo made Gragnani’s performance even more stark.

We weren’t shy about calling him out on his errors either; the errors that he made against the Ducks are the kinds of mistakes that get you benched or sent to the press box, particularly on a team coached by Alain Vigneault, who loves his low-risk, low-event defencemen.

And yet, even after his defensive gaffes, Gragnani played 18:52 against the Ducks, including 1:43 in overtime. While this was still fifth in icetime among Canuck defenceman, he saw a lot more of the sheet than many expected. Some are quick to attribute this to favouritism, as Gragnani was previously coached by Vigneault in Juniors. Many draw a parallel to Keith Ballard and wonder why Gragnani doesn’t get the same treatment for his defensive mistakes.

The reason, as I see it, is a simple one: they’re two different players.

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