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NHL scout calls Hodgson-Kassian deal “a terrible trade for Vancouver”

Mar 26, 2012, 2:58 PM EDT

Cody Hodgson Buffalo

In his latest piece for Sportsnet Magazine (entitled “Truth Behind Hodgson Trade”), Gare Joyce examines why the Vancouver Canucks dealt away 22-year-old center Cody Hodgson at February’s trade deadline — after he’d won the NHL’s rookie of the month for January — in exchange for Zack Kassian, who had three goals and four assists in 27 NHL games.

The reactions to the trade were vast and varying, but here’s a rather compelling take.

NHL scout: “It’s a terrible trade for Vancouver. Hodgson had done a good job for them this year. He was starting to show he had top-six upside…that he could step up if [Henrik] Sedin or [Ryan] Kesler went down. They didn’t have a player like him who could give them some offence outside of the top six. And centre is the most valuable position — you can’t trade a centre for a depth player with size, certainly not one who’s not a finished product.”

The results thus far? Hodgson went scoreless in his first 10 games as a Sabre but has scored six points in his last four. Kassian scored two points in his first three games as a Canuck but has gone scoreless in his last nine.

As for Joyce’s examination of the trade…he unearthed some pretty interesting findings, especially regarding the meeting Hodgson had with Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault about how he was being utilized.

On Hodgson’s standing in Vancouver: There was a mutually fractious relationship between player and management. There was Rich Winter, a sometimes quarrelsome maverick agent, who is no favourite of Vancouver GM Mike Gillis. And, finally, there was Hodgson’s place among his Canucks teammates — at least a few thought he was a little too ambitious for their liking.

(Related: Cody Hodgson’s agent takes to Twitter to deny trade request, confuses issue further)

On Vancouver’s issues w/Winter: When Winter tweeted that Hodgson had met with Vigneault, it just further annoyed the team. It would have been the last thing [Hodgson’s former agent Don] Meehan and Newport would have done, but it’s completely in character for Winter. The Canucks had to assume there was more coming.

On Hodgson asking about playing time/role on team: In Vancouver, however—with a winning team that thinks it’s heading for a playoff with one more win in reserve than last year—he was still a rookie, no matter how long he had been on the scene. NHL culture has evolved, but not a rookie’s place in it. Teams aren’t looking for dialogues with rookies. They’re around on a need-to-know, speak-when-spoken-to basis, at least with coaches and management.

When Hodsgon went to the coach to talk about his role on the team, in the broader sense he was only asking for a trade.

It’s a curious piece, definitely worth the read — especially since Hodgson’s in the middle of Buffalo’s stirring comeback effort while Kassian has struggled to find his niche in Vancouver.

  1. bergeronforselke - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM


    • itsallniceonice - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      Wish I could give 2 thumbs up for your username.

  2. davebabychreturns - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Reading the full article I don’t really like Joyce’s sweeping statement about views of the deal around the league, supported by one individual. I also don’t particularly like that one individual’s evaluation of the Canucks.

    From a blue-and-green perspective the reasoning is that while Hodgson could center a scoring line, he was the third best player at that role on the team and he couldn’t play any other role to the satisfaction of the orgnization. They went out and got Sami Pahlsson to do the work Ryan Kesler had been doing so Kesler could do Hodgson’s job (better), and given what seems to have been going on between Hodgson’s camp and the team they moved him to fill a hole elsewhere on the roster. It could turn out to be a terrible deal for the Canucks, but concluding that right now is incredibly premature.

    Anyway the article barely even mentions Zack Kassian’s name – he has been decent for the Canucks already given he is pretty raw at this point.

    • noulp - Mar 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      Not to mention that COHO, while being a rookie, was an old rookie, with only one more year left on his contract. His value was at the highest it’s ever been, and I’d argue his value was inflated, by his recent streaky yet unsustainable January. The acquisition of Pahlsson only meant that he’d have an even harder time contributing. His PP success was a welcome addition, but as we saw in last year’s play-offs it gets harder and harder to score on the PP as the refs refuse to award any 5-3s expect for the most egregious infractions. I think the Kesler line is going to be the number one offensive line at even strength in the play-offs and limiting the amount of defense Kesler has to play should keep his wear and tear minimized. Kassian doesn’t need to be a star now, we’ve got him cheap for a while yet.

  3. warpstonebc - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    I was sympathetic to Hodgson, but as more comes to light, he appears more and more to either be just tonedeaf or under his father’s thumb.

    He was being recent Hart and Selke winners on the depth chart. He’s not fast enough tot play wing or particular defensively experienced. But he complained… as a rookie. He may not come off as a jerk because he’s mum in public, but the kid was complaining about his rookie role on a team ready to make another strong playoff run.

    It’s hard to fault Mike Gillis when you’re dealing with a player/agent/father combo that’s this self-involved on a winning team.

  4. loinstache - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Still don’t like the trade. There’s some pretty good arguments that Cody didn’t have a solid place on the team, which I can understand. However that could have been solved on the off-season, where the team’s deficits would have been better portrayed. Acting at the deadline to acquire an even younger, unproven player is just baffling, especially when the team had clear need of more pressing roles, like a top 4 D. I don’t dislike Kassian, but trading one of your hottest chips at the deadline before an intended cup run for an even more unproven player is just bizarre, why plan that far in the future now?

    However the Pahlsson acquisition has been excellent, and can only get better come the play-offs with expanded defensive responsibilities and an unbridled Ryan Kesler. Further Pahlsson-Hansen-Higgins is quite the third line.

  5. thomaspratt - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Kassian might be a good player in the long run, but playing him up and down the lineup is not giving him a chance to find his place this season. Do they want him to open space for first line players or do they want him to be a 7 min a night 4th line banger? For this deal to pay off for the Canucks, Kassian has to be a top 6 power forward, and developing that kind of player is tricky.

  6. Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Now Canuck fans are seeing the light. Buffalo needed a center, hence the trade. There are still Sabres fans who don’t like the trade but with each goal Cody scores that gets more quiet. Plus Marcus Foligno is also making people forget about Zach. Wish Zach well out west, thanks to Canuck management for giving us another scorer.

  7. bcisleman - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    In any broken relationship, there are two sides and usually fault on each. From the very beginning, Gillis and Vigneault handled Hodgson poorly. Hodgson may have been too impatient, but the early mistreatment probably poisoned things.

    Kassian is a PF and they take time to develop. He has the potential to be an enforcer with a scoring touch and they are rare. Hopefully VAN handles him a bit better than it did Hodgson.

  8. rabidbillsfan - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Whoa, can’t belive no where Alexander Sulzer was mentioned. Bagging Sulzer made this trade extremly lopsided. Sulzer has been a Top-3 defenseman on this team since coming over, and he made a quicker impact then Hodgson. At first I was sceptical of the trade. Goose was shipped, and then Kassian, the only 2 guys with the girth to bring the wood. Then, watching Hodgson play, it seemed like even though he wasn’t scoring, he made the Ennis-Stafford line better. You could tell the diffrence in culture just by the way he played. He caught Drew flat footed atleast 4 times in the first five games on what would have been tip-ins. Now, Foligno comes up, and he scores, hits, and works, much more then what Kassian was doing. The Sabres may not have Super-Star talent, but they are loaded with streaky guys who seem to hit their stride when another faulters. This team is very dangerous right now, with 3 lines that can score, and a Goalie who can’t be beat, it looks like Lindy and Darcy pulled something off that will more than likely save their jobs.

    • warpstonebc - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      Wow. Sulzer? Really? I’m honestly surprised. He got such little ice-time that most Canucks fans forgot he was on the team.

      • buffalotears - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:50 PM

        Sulzer has been very impressive. He got regular playing time when Myers got suspended, and he has stayed in the lineup since. Mike Weber has been starting, and playing fairly well, most of the year, and he was scratched, not Sulzer, when Myers came back. He’s been nice surprise for the Sabres so far.

      • warpstonebc - Mar 26, 2012 at 6:17 PM

        Good for him then. Vigneault seemed to have lost faith him in early and Sulzer never really got a chance thereafter in Vancouver.

        It’s also one of the reasons why trades like this are always apples to oranges. Sulzer and Gragnani may never have amounted to much on their former teams. Different team with a different playing style and you’re routinely surprised by what players respond to their opportunities.

    • elvispocomo - Mar 26, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      I liked Sulzer with the Canucks, but he was exposed at times when we tried him in the top 4 to cover for injuries. He was solid on the bottom pairing, however. Very much a positional D-man, not overly physical but a reasonable shot and good hockey sense. We moved that to get a more offensive-minded D-man in Gragnani, and I think the trade filled the needs of either team very well.

  9. interiorfan - Mar 26, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    As a Canucks fan, I’m glad this trade worked out well for Buffalo. I think Cody will be a great player for the Sabres and am happy to hear Sulzer is getting a half decent chance. I’d love to see them make the playoffs. Us 41 year olds have to stick together!

  10. scottymcss - Mar 26, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    We’ll have to wait a few seasons before we can call a winner on this deal. That being said, the clear winner of this trade right now is Marcus Foligno – called up after Kassian left, he’s put up 10 points in 9 games (+7) alongside Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford.

    You might say Foligno is everything folks want Kassian to be someday.

  11. zach28 - Mar 26, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    wow duh really?? a reporter figures out it was a s**t trade? a top end prospect for a decent one, cmon thats sillyness. everyone knew hodgson was going to be a star and kassian well he’d be good but not hodgson good.

  12. leninthebuff - Mar 26, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    It is silly to announce a winner of this trade after one month, both teams satisfied their needs. Gragnani is a RFA and Sulzer is an UFA after the season is over.

    Kassian is strong along the boards protecting the puck and has a nice shot, though he is young I question his toughness. When in Rochester there was a story that he backed down numerous times when challenged. Good luck if Vancouver thinks he will neutralize Lucic and Thornton as he will be a sacrificial lamb judging from the 3 NHL fights he has had.

    If what is written about Hodgson is true and he comforts Lindy we in Buffalo know he will get buried on the fourth line real fast.

    Scottymcss had it right when he said the real winner of the trade was Foligno. I hope in the end both players make this a win-win trade.

  13. SydH - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    Reblogged this on Sabreland | Buffalo Sabres News, Commentary and Opinion and commented:
    Trade does looks good right now for the Sabres. If you want to dive into the numbers a little more:
    Kassian: 12 GP with VAN, 1 G, 1 A, 31 PIM, -1
    Hodgson: 14 GP with BUF, 3 G, 3 A, 2 PIM, -3
    Hodgson has been a big part of the Sabres’ recent run. As I mentioned here on Sabreland, he’s starting to find chemistry and comfort with his new team as the days go on. It appears that he will be an even bigger factor in the direction of this team in the 2012-13 season.

  14. iamanidiotfan - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    Before this trade happened, I kept hearing how young power forwards are near impossible to acquire. For example, the Oilers are blessed with a lot of talented young forwards, but finding size with grit and skill is tough. Whether that skilled & gritty forward is Kassian or not we’ll find out in the next few years. But re: his rawness, you would think that if the Canucks have another long playoff run, that his development will be sped up.

  15. rainyday56 - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    Would you trade Danny Gare for Jim Sandlak? Didn’t think so.

  16. WeWantTheCup - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Another good move by Gillis. Anyone bashing the canucks for this trade doesn’t see what was going on here. You got a rookie playing behind the Hart and Selke trophy winners. The rookie and his agent and family where whining about ice time. Gillis didn’t take the chance of having all the Cody Camp gripes come out in the media and then tying the canucks hands. We all know what happens when the media or other teams find out that a player wants out of an organization, you get about 40% market value in return. Gillis made the deal before all of Cody’s crying came out to the public. Cody may be a better prospect than kassian but the upside on Kassian is what the trade was all about. Gillis traded for someone that has the potential to become a very good power forward, Gillis is smart enough to know what a player like Kassian would cost if/when he reaches his potential so instead he took a calculated risk. This move makes the canucks a better playoff team with a true shut down third line.

    • monsieurdl - Mar 29, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      So far, all of the upside seems to be resting with the Sabres, both in chemistry and in production. Your statement that it “makes the Canucks a better playoff team” isn’t based in fact.

      This trade wasn’t about the upside of Kassian, but about players that the Canucks couldn’t find room for for one reason or another and decided to ship somewhere. The additions of Hodgson and Sulzer, and also the subtraction of Kassian freeing up Foligno, have ignited this team so much so that no one wants to play the Sabres right now. I don’t see how Kassian and Gragnani have done the same for Vancouver- in fact, Sulzer has been better for the Sabres than Kassian has for the Canucks, which if I were a Canucks fan I’d be very upset about.

      This trade has given the Sabres a big lift, has given Miller his confidence back, and will propel us into the playoffs after being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference just weeks ago. Now that is truly impact, and why the trade was terrible for Vancouver. Matter of fact, I feel like Darcy Regier robbed them blind!

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