In what could be the most important audition of his young career, Cody Hodgson is getting another look as the Vancouver Canucks’ fourth-line center.
It’s no secret that the Canucks have been looking for a fourth-line center since breaking ties with Brendan Morrison after training camp.
It’s also no secret that, on a team experiencing perhaps its most successful regular season to date, the fourth-line center position has been seen by many as its Achilles heel.
They’ve tried, with no extended success, Alex Bolduc, Rick Rypien, Mario Bliznak, Jeff Tambellini, Peter Schaefer, Joel Perrault, Tanner Glass and Hodgson in that role.
Not surprisingly, many of us feel that the Canucks need to acquire some center depth as we approach the trade deadline. Very few teams can boast having the reigning Art Ross trophy winner and current assists leader as their no. 1 center, a Selke trophy favorite as their no. 2 center, and a faceoff and PK specialist as their no. 3 center. However, as good as the Canucks are down the middle right now, they’re an injury away from asking Manny Malhotra to be a top-six center or relying on a winger (Glass) or a rookie (Hodgson) to shut down one of the opposing teams’ scoring lines.
During Hodgson’s first call-up a few weeks ago, he added a different dimension to the fourth line. They didn’t log a lot of shifts, but in the few shifts they had, they were somehow able to take control of the play and even generated some offense. As the adage goes, the other team can’t score if they don’t have the puck.
In the next week or so, Hodgson will get a great opportunity to solidify his hold on the Canucks’ fourth-line center spot. If he continues to show success and progress, perhaps this changes GM Mike Gillis’ game plan come Monday and Hodgson is here to stay. If not, then they can send him back down and use his $4,391 daily cap hit (approximately $800,000 in annual salary) to acquire some depth. (Zenon Konopka, anyone?)