Slowly but surely, Cody Hodgson is picking up the pieces again.
His back injuries of a year ago are a thing of the past and he recently told The Province that he’s as strong as he’s ever been, which is a breath of fresh air for those who have heralded Hodgson as the future of the Vancouver Canucks organization.
Truth be told, the Canucks will need a youthful and energetic presence come October. Still rallying from the bitterness of losing the Stanley Cup at home, it’s safe to say that some of the players are still a little physically weary and will come out of the shoot stumbling. Hodgson, who played little to no minutes during the postseason, will need to be a catalyst for the team’s early regular season success.
And Hodgson’s importance to the club in the short-term is only magnified now that it’s clear two-thirds of Vancouver’s second line will be out of the lineup. Ryan Kesler has stated he’d like to be completely healthy and fit by the start of the regular season, but major hip surgery has a habit of hampering even the bullish Kesler from being a bronco in the NHL rodeo. Mason Raymond’s back won’t allow him back until at least November, and with the aging Mikael Samuelsson and injury-riddled Marco Sturm in tow, there’s a brass ring waiting to be seized for Hodgson.
Truth be told, this is a crucial year in the development of Cody Hodgson. Ever since he was drafted in the summer of 2008 and claimed gold with Canada at the World Juniors (where he finished as the leading scorer), he has (perhaps unfairly) been held in the same stratosphere as Steven Stamkos, who has since become part of the NHL’s elite class of players. Remember that it was three years ago when they were drafted that TSN analyst Bob McKenzie said all that separated Hodgson from Stamkos was the initial burst of speed.
It’s highly unlikely Hodgson will ever get to Stamkos’ level of play, but three years have since passed since his draft and Hodgson will hardly get a better chance to make and stick with the Vancouver Canucks roster than right now, when the organization needs him the most.