Kassian/Hodgson Trade Reaction
At about 1pm this afternoon, much like the vast majority of Canucks Nation, following the Cody Hodgson trade I was about ready to take one big step off the top ledge of the highest and handiest, nearby building.
However, it was a little crowded up there.
So then I thought, heck I have some time to wait here while the other jumpers paraded by, why not try one last time to get inside the mindset of GM Mike Gillis, before taking that final plunge.
To this point in time, I would assert that Gillis has essentially been nothing but a blessing to Van City this past four years, and despite my initial shock at the loss of Coho, I did some research and put a lot of thought into the trade (as much time as could be spared within the oppressive deadlines of our editor ‘Q’).
First of all, Cody has been a revelation but he has essentially been playing a fairly low 10-12 minutes per game.
There is no way that he would have been jumping the queue past Henrik Sedin or Ryan Kesler at the centre position for the remainder of this year, or over the next few years. He had also previously been looked at on the wing but it was not a natural fit, so he dropped to the third line where he has played well.
However, in the playoffs his time would have remained the same or dropped even more because the Sedins and Kesler have had their minutes managed well this year for the purpose of rest, and they will be ridden for all they are worth come the playoffs once again.
Unfortunately, as beloved as he had become, Cody was additionally still a deficiency on the defensive side, and has struggled playing against bigger defencemen.
Sami Pahlsson is not the same creative force, but is a savvy vet who can cover that third line centre position for Cody at present, and he has the Stanley Cup winning pedigree to provide that essential level of experience.
That leaves us with the new boy Zack Kassian, who brings great size, a decent set of hands and enough of a mean streak to get opponents thinking.
He has also managed 7 points in 27 NHL games this year for a poor offensive side in Buffalo, and with the right linemates, could do even better. He has had a well-deserved reputation for making some poor decisions with over aggression, taking too many penalties, but that number has dropped this year.
Kassian fills a need that no other player at any level of the organization can fill. He is going to be raw granted, but he can go to the net, finish off the rush, and when needed exact retribution from opponents who may try to take liberties with the Canucks skill players.
The Canucks already have a lot of interchangeable parts, who can move from line to line, and thus Kassian can be played as much or as little as coach Alain Vigneault needs.
The Canucks have a huge divisional lead, guaranteeing a top three conference finish and there are also 19 games left for the team to experiment to a degree on where he will best fit.
I still love Hodgson, but this is an Old West riverboat gamble that Gillis has taken, and I believe it could work this year.
The team also has probably another likely three year window to win the whole damn thing, and Kassian (who is cheap cap wise at $870,000 for each of the three years) will be a future building block at a positional need.
The Canucks already had a great deal of skill before Coho, and they still do now. They may also have the muscle and grit they have been awaiting.
Scotties tissues will still do a tidy business around the lower mainland and across the province of British Columbia this next week and beyond with the loss of Coho. But the more I think about it (and I am still shaken here mind you), provided Kassian maintains discipline, Gillis may have hit a true home run.
The view up here is still tempting in regards to that plunge, but I for one am ready to step back from the ledge for now.