The Vancouver Canucks’ trade that saw Cody Hodgson and Alex Sulzer shipped to Buffalo for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani is the biggest trade since Roberto Luongo came to town in 2006. No trade since that time could have bigger long-term ramifications for this franchise.
The Canucks may have easily just traded a future captain and point per game player in Hodgson. The Sabres may have just moved the second coming of Milan Lucic in Kassian. No one knows. We’ll have to re-visit this trade in three to five years time.
But what we do know is that the decision to move Cody Hodgson is a curious one.
Truth is, the Canucks had little reason to make a big move such as this one. If the Canucks were intent on adding some grit, they could’ve done themselves and their fans a lot of good if they just paid the first-round price for Paul Gaustad or Steve Downie. They would’ve added a piece that had the potential of staying in Vancouver beyond this season and not alienated an emerging star like Cody Hodgson in the process.
Not only that, the Canucks are sitting first in the NHL standings. Was an Earth-shaking move such as this one so necessary? NHL logic dictates that most teams wouldn’t have messed with the locker room chemistry and just made minor adjustments like the team did last year with Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre.
Which leaves only this: Did Hodgson and his camp want out of Vancouver? He wasn’t going to get top-six minutes behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, and that alleged “rift” must’ve at least put a damper on things. Plus, I’ve never seen a family so ecstatic to see their son go from a legitimate Stanley Cup contender as I did with Hodgson’s family. If Hodgson wanted a trade, then so be it. But the Canucks didn’t need to rush into this trade. If the Canucks wanted or had to move Hodgson, couldn’t this deal have been consummated in the offseason if the Canucks fall short of the Stanley Cup?
This is a tough deal for fans because of their emotional investment in Hodgson since his 2008 draft. We’ve seen him go from legitimate future star to overhyped prospect to bust project to potential rookie of the year candidate. Tell me how trading Hodgson for Kassian helps this team win a Stanley Cup now. Hodgson may still be a bit of an unproven commodity, but he’s certainly shown more than Kassian has.
I understand this is a business, and I understand Mike Gillis trying to address the team needs right now. I get all that. But from where Hodgson is at now as a rookie of the year candidate, and judging by how well he was performing and how well-liked he was in the dressing room, this move still comes as a shock. Hodgson deserved to at least show he has what it takes to succeed in the postseason and win a Stanley Cup.
It’s a shame that we’ll never know.