With the exception of the Vancouver PD, who will be saving several million dollars on beefed-up police presence thanks to the Canucks’ early playoff exit, most of Vancouver is pretty sour on the hockey team since their sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. But if you need some cheering up, here’s a little tidbit about former Canuck Cody Hodgson that should make you feel a little better about that trade.
Hodgson finished the year with 15 goals and 34 points, second on the Sabres to Thomas Vanek in both categories. THAT’S NOT THE PART THAT’S SUPPOSED TO CHEER YOU UP. Offensively, he was very, very effective. His 2.91 goals per 60 minutes put him ahead of guys like Claude Giroux, Nicklas Backstrom, and Brad Richards.
But the Canucks’ concerns regarding Hodgson were always on the defensive end, and there, according to John Vogl, Hodgson still had a lot of work to do. The guy’s about as one-way as downtown Cordova Street. From the Buffalo News:
The focus for Hodgson will be defense. The 23-year-old saw goal lights flashing at both ends of the rink all season. His advance stats feature offensive promise and defensive nightmares.
[...] While his offense was stellar, the other side of Hodgson’s game was a mess. Opponents averaged 3.64 goals against him per 60 minutes while skating five-on-five. Of the 689 skaters who appeared in at least 10 games, Hodgson ranked 665th.
In other words, only 24 players in the league were easier to score against.
In other other words, don’t be so sour on this trade. Hodgson put up a lot of points, but even with his stellar numbers, he was outproduced by the opposition when he was on the ice. Since the purpose of hockey isn’t just to score, but to outscore your opponents, this is problematic.
Alain Vigneault got a lot of flak for the way he treated Cody Hodgson, but it’s worth noting that Hodgson’s “treatment” didn’t really improve in Buffalo. Despite being, effectively, the Sabres’ only skilled centre, Hodgson spent time on the fourth line under Ron Rolston, who found himself equally frustrated by the centre’s problems on the backcheck.
Now, I’m not saying the Canucks have won this trade or anything like that. It’s still far too early to say that, since both Hodgson and Kassian remain young prospects with a lot of time left to put it all together. This was Hodgson’s first full season as a top-line centre. He could still develop this part of his game, especially since it’s a lot easier to learn defensive skill than offensive skill, and there’s no doubting he’s a smart guy.
But I am saying that the early returns on the Canucks’ evaluations are vindicating them somewhat.
When the Canucks moved Hodgson, they had two motivations in mind: first, he was annoying. Second, and more importantly, they had come to believe that, even in spite of his offensive potential, his defence would disallow him from being a top-line centre on an elite hockey team. So, as Mike Gillis admitted, they jacked up his deployment to cover the issues and inflate his value — which you can do when he’s behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler — and then they moved him for a breed of prospect that was a little harder to come by.
Zack Kassian may not work out either, but a season later, Hodgson has yet to make them rethink their reasoning for letting him go.Tags: Cody Hodgson, cold comfort