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What to do with Hodgson?

It seems relatively clear enough at this point that Cody Hodgson, but for injuries, wouldn't have much of a chance of making the Canucks this year.  He's either been hurt, ineffective, or (horrors) he's just not as good as we all thought.

It seemed evident from day 1 of training camp that Hodgson was in a battle for a roster spot.  Between returnees and new competition (remember when we thought that Michael Grabner had a shot?), there seemed to be one, or maybe two open spots on the (as expected) 13 forwards that the team would break camp with.

Then the injuries started.  First Demitra, now Hansen.  That seems to open up 2 spots in the top 13, one in a top-6 scoring role (Demitra) and one in a bottom-6 energy/reserve role (Hansen).

Sergei Shirokov seems to have sewn up Demitra's spot (although stranger things have happened).  Unlike Hodgson, he's proved his worth throughout the postseason,

and he has enough of a KHL resume that the team seems to be willing to give him a shot.  It looks like he'll likely be skating with Kesler on the second line, with (right now) whichever one of Samuelsson or Burrows isn't playing with the Sedins.  That was the pre-Hansen-injury smart money, anyways.

 

Hodgson seemed to be unlikely to make the team.  He is clearly behind Shirokov in terms of development, and unlike Hansen, had the option of heading back to junior without waivers.  That, coupled with the fact he clearly seemed not to be ready, seemed like the best option.

Cue Hansen's injury.  All of a sudden, a spot is open, albeit likely on the 4th line.  That said, to me this is the perfect opportunity to allow Hodgson to get into the lineup in a top-6 role, at least on a conditional 9 game basis (the max before you burn a year on his contract) before the decision is made whether or not to send him back to junior.  As such, if I'm MG/AV, this is what I do:

  1. Sedin-Sedin-Samuelsson
  2. Shirokov-Kesler-Hodgson
  3. Raymond-Wellwood-Burrows
  4. Rypien-Johnson-Bernier

What does this do?  Burrows goes back to help the 3rd line for a few games, to allow the team to see what they actually have in Hodgson.  Bernier (or Raymond) drops to the 4th line temporarily.  And Hodgson gets his scoring line minutes.  You can even flip the lines if necessary (IE - play the 3rd line at 2nd line minutes, and give the 2nd line 3rd line minutes, but scoring responsibilities).

This allows a fair analysis of a (hopefully by now) healthy Hodgson, and the only cost is a few less minutes for Burrows and Bernier.  Admittedly, it's not fair to Burrows, but the team has already said that if he needs to go back into a checking role, that's what he's going to do.

Hodgson has nothing to prove at junior.  Give him a few games on the 2nd line (now that he's healthy, or healthier) to give him a chance to prove something at this level.  If it doesn't work, send him to Brampton after 9 games, and cross your fingers that he's not just a CHL star.

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