Bleacher Report scans Cody Hodgson’s future with Canucks

By Terrance Gavan – Sports

What will the 2011-2012 season bring for Haliburton’s Cody Hodgson?

That’s the question asked by a late-breaking post on Bleacher Report.

I have my own ideas about what Vancouver should do with Hodgson. None of them include sending the talented centre to the new Vancouver Canuck farm club in Chicago. Look at the piece below.

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Cody was the CHL Player of the Year. He led Team Canada to a Junior Gold. He is a proven commodity. Yet they talk of another year in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves? HMmm? Photo by Sam Pollock.

We have more shuck and jive about the Canucks large depth at Centre. It’s almost as if the pundits out there have forgotten the very real bona fides belonging to the former Canadian Hockey League player of the year.

What really irks is this lingering notion that Cody Hodgson is slow. Well, let’s end this little ditty right here and now.

Cody Hodgson is not slow. Hodgson is a faster skater than 99.9 percent of Canadians. He’s being compared to NHL hockey players. When writers refer to Hosgson’s lack of speed they are referring to his basic and clocked time from goal line to center. Or blue line to blue line. Granted, in that limited talent pool Cody Hodgson is not as fast as say, Matt Duchene.

But then again, I’d say that about 85 percent of NHL forwards are not as fast as Matt Duchene. We’re keeping this in Haliburton peeps so forgive me my freaking trespasses.

Now does that mean that the other forwards are slow? Of course not. It means that Matt Duchene is quick. That’s all it means. Cody Hodgson, the Sedins, and countless other NHLers may be slower than some and quicker than others.

A big premium is placed on speed today. It’s a lovely thing to have. So is agility, two-way play, puck awareness and ice presence.

All of which Hodgson owns… in spades.

But let’s go to Bleacher Report please before I infringe or go on like a thrice flogged palamino.

Drafted 10th overall in 2008, Hodgson was considered a can’t miss prospect—especially after following his draft year by leading Team Canada in scoring at the 2009 World Junior Championship (where Canada won gold and Hodgson had 16 points in six games) and being named the 2008-09 CHL Player of the Year.

Since then, Hodgson has hit on hard times. Injuries have marred his development, and Vancouver’s depth at centre has limited his opportunity.

Going into this season, Hodgson once again finds himself on the outside looking in if you go by the Canucks’ depth chart. With Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre tentatively penciled in ahead of him, many fans see Hodgson as potential trade bait or in need of more time in the minors. But I disagree.

It goes without saying that this is a vital year for Hodgson. Assuming he’s healthy, it’s time for him to prove he belongs with the big boys and that he’s ready to be an asset on the Canucks third line. Although he’s played some right wing in the past, Hodgson is a natural two-way centreman, and there’s no reason Vancouver wouldn’t consider putting Manny Malhotra on the left wing and Hodgson at centre.

When Malhotra was signed last summer, the scenario of playing as a winger was presented to Malhotra and he was fine with it. Last year, Hodgson clearly wasn’t ready to assume such a prominent role, and everyone would agree that playing between five and 10 minutes on the fourth line is a waste of time for a young offensive player like Hodgson.

As hockey fans throughout North America await training camp to see which prospects are ready to seize a roster spot, Vancouver’s depth and strength in a weak Northwest Division gives them the luxury of helping Hodgson grow into that third-line role. Although you’d have to assume Malhotra will still take the more crucial faceoffs, having Malhotra on that line as a mentor for Hodgson could provide a real boost for Hodgson’s development.

But make no mistake: if Hodgson isn’t ready, he will once again start the year with the Chicago Wolves.

As for this final segment in the “Top 20: Canucks Prospects” series, we count down Vancouver’s top five prospects, all of whom should be regular contributors in Vancouver within the next two-to-three years. Please also note that with Cory Schneider having played the full 2010-2011 season in Vancouver, he is now considered a Canuck, rather than a Canuck prospect.

And if Hodgson is once again relegated to the AHL – from Moose to Wolves? – I will personally lead an on line crusade against the Canucks management.

Because right now I think they’ve show callous disregard for the career of a young man.

A young man who got his start here in Dysart et al Arena.

A young man with dreams.

And a young man with the talent to play somewhere in the Nhl.

So Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault must make a decision here.

Quit messing around with Cody Hodgson.

Or prepare for a fight. Because I’m damn good and sure that Cody Hodgson can play second line center for about 10 clubs in the NHL.

Including the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And by hoarding that talent.

You are doing a disservice to a young man’s dream.

Chew on that Gillis.

And shit or get off the throne.