Canucks Top Draft Pick Shines Brightly
The absence of the speedy but slight winger has in part contributed to the expansion of Cody Hodgson’s role with the team, and Raymond’s absence from the line-up could be the turning point for Hodgson to build his career with the team that drafted him 10th overall from the Brampton Battalion in the 2008 amateur draft.
Hodgson has been one of the most complete players this season for Vancouver, despite being shuffled between the second and third lines.
Coho, as he has become affectionately known, came with an impressive major junior and Team Canada background as a gifted offensive force.
Ironically though, it was another injury of his own that nearly derailed Hodgson’s opportunity with the Canucks.
A back problem, specifically a bulging disc, which was apparently misdiagnosed by the Canucks medical staff, precipitated a long and difficult rehab.
Rumour has it that the differing opinions of the team, and Hodgson’s family led to considerable disagreements over treatment and friction between the two parties.
Whatever the truth was exactly, the arrival of Hodgson ended up being a disjointed affair, with several moves orchestrated between the Canucks and the major junior Brampton Battalion initially, followed by a protracted back and forth from Vancouver to the Manitoba Moose AHL affiliate.
However, Coho has proved that the wait has been worthwhile.
In the OHL, he was the recipient of many accolades, including awards for smartest player in the Eastern Conference (as selected by the coaches), hardest worker, First Team OHL All-Star, and the overall CHL Player of the Year for Major junior players. Hodgson would also go on to make the First Team at the World Junior Championships, winning the gold medal with Team Canada in the process in 2009.
In the NHL, some concerns were voiced about Hodgson’s seeming lack of foot speed. But he has proven to be a competent skater who never gives up on a shift.
His on ice intelligence has been demonstrated nightly, with smart choices in his insightful passing, as well as strategic dumping of the puck into the corners when required.
He works hard on his back checking, and has also developed a power move from the outside to the inside that utilizes his ability to gain position on defenders in order to set up his linemates.
At this point Hodgson has 7 points, including 3 goals, but has been unlucky not to rack up a few more. His -3 rating is also deceiving as it ranks higher than many of his linemates, including the -10 of the normally reliable Manny Malhotra with whom he has been playing alongside more frequently, during the team’s rough start to the season.
At one point it appeared that the curse of the Canucks draft picks might have seen another high selection gone to waste.
However, the dogged nature of Cody Hodgson, whose work ethic is surely one of the best on the team, is beginning to reward the Vancouver squad.
He has been a winner wherever he has played in the past and that is a quality that this team will need to take advantage of as they work towards a return to the playoffs.