With a contending team like the Vancouver Canucks, fresh off a Stanley Cup Final appearance and a Presidents’ Trophy for having the NHL’s best record, it’s easy to overlook prospects. We tend to think of teams like that as “win-now” and laden with veterans.
But the truth is that, just as Boston produced Tyler Seguin last year, the Canucks could get a serious boost from a healthy Cody Hodgson in 2011-12. The former first-round pick and elite prospect has been slow out of the gate in his pro career because of a back injury,
But, after he toiled as a fourth-liner when he did play last year, Hodgson will get a chance to be a top-six forward this time around.
“This is the first summer in three years when Cody has been healthy and able to train,” said Ritch Winter, Hodgson’s agent. “He’s a little behind the curve with his play because he’s had these injury problems but his attitude is great, he’s probably as strong as he’s ever been in his life and he’s looking forward to this season. “
Hodgson has some great physical and mental help as he trains for the upcoming season.
Ex-NHLer and fitness guru Gary Roberts is reportedly training him – and we saw the wonders Roberts did for Steven Stamkos’ game. Claude Lemieux, another wily former NHLer, has been helping Hodgson with the mental aspects.
Rumors have run rampant about the 21-year-old Hodgson’s relationship with the Canucks, with rumors even surfacing in the past of him wanting a trade, but it appears things are about to change for the better. The Canucks need Hodgson more than ever now and that should sit well with him.
It’s far too early to label Cody Hodgson a bust. The NHL success of guys like Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Drew Doughty as teenagers has skewed our understanding of prospects. Those guys were still the exceptions.
Hodgson has only 20 NHL games to his name – eight regular-season, 12 playoff — and none yet in a top-six role.
Maybe 2011-12 will be his breakout campaign.