Mar 082010
 
Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder and Kevin Connauton

I like Cody Hodgson, but he better not be the next coming of Sami Salo.

From Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province):

When Cody Hodgson fractured a toe on his right foot while blocking a shot during an OHL game in Sudbury on Feb. 12, the Vancouver Canucks prospect wasn’t concerned because X-rays at the time revealed that it was more likely just a deep bone bruise. Not so.

When the pain persisted for three weeks, the Brampton Battalion centre had another X-ray and this one showed a hairline fracture that will keep the first-round draft choice sidelined until the OHL playoffs. Despite playing with a broken toe, Hodgson had managed 17 points (8-9) in that span and has 20 points in 13 games since returning from a bulging disc in his lower back that kept him sidelined more than four months.

*****

Could Jordan Schroeder join the Manitoba Moose for their stretch drive?

From Ken Wiebe (Winnipeg Sun):

Although there has been no official word, there’s been plenty of speculation that Schroeder (who helped Team USA win gold at the world junior hockey championship in Saskatoon) plans to leave college after his sophomore season is complete and he could also join the Moose for the stretch drive.

Arniel isn’t sure how many players will be brought in or how many will get into the lineup as the season wears on.

“We’ve talked to Vancouver and we’ll talk some more about whether we’re going to bring all the prospects inhere or just a few in here,” Arniel said before his team departed for a two-game road trip against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

*****

With 3 games left in their regular season, Kevin Connauton now shares the Vancouver Giants franchise record for most points by a defenseman.

From Steve Ewen (Vancouver Province):

Kevin Connauton, who finished a plus-5, had an assist on the Gallagher marker and now has 67 points on the season, tying him with Brent Regner’s 2008-09 effort for most points in a season by a Giants blueliner.

His 67 points place him 2nd in scoring among all WHL defensemen and 2nd among all WHL rookie scorers. Considering the other defensemen that have suited up for the Giants in the past – Andrei Meszaros, Jonathan Blum and Cody Franson among others – that’s quite an accomplishment for the Canucks’ 3rd round draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Feb 052010
 

Last night – more than four months since playing his last hockey game – Cody Hodgson finally suited up for the Brampton Battalion. He recorded two assists and was named the game’s first star.

Not a bad first game back. And when Canucks fans read about his return this morning, surely we were excited, eh? Well, hang on now.

From Jim Jamieson (Vancouver Province):

In a conference call, Hodgson — who assisted on two goals in his Brampton Battalion junior club’s 4-2 win over Erie on Thursday — said he felt great to be back after an emotional four months away from the game while he rehabbed an injured back.

But Hodgson, in his first public statements since the highly touted Canucks prospect was returned to junior on Sept. 28, said the Vancouver organization has had no input into the treatment of his ailing back since he was sent down. He added that he won’t be working further with Gagner, in whose training facility in London, Ont., Hodgson originally hurt his back last July.

While Hodgson said he didn’t want to dwell on the past, it confirms what many have suspected — that Hodgson and his camp were not happy with the Canucks and Gagner after the injury occurred.

“Most of my rehab has been independent, through Dr.(Tony) Miniaci in Cleveland and doctors in Toronto and the trainer here in Brampton,” said Hodgson.

“In the summer I won’t be training with Mr. Gagner.”

Huh?

More from Jamieson:

Asked why he wouldn’t be training with Gagner, with whom he’s worked the previous two summers since the Canucks drafted him, Hodgson said: “I feel I have good trainers I can work with in Toronto.”

This creates a problem for Canucks GM Mike Gillis, who has a prospect who apparently doesn’t want to work with his player development director. Gillis didn’t immediately return a call to The Province.

I think it’s understandable that Hodgson wants to work with his own trainer. And if that’s the only issue, then I think we can stop reading more into what he said at the press conference. However, if the issue is deeper than that – i.e. if Hodgson refuses to work with his team’s Director of Player Development – then the Canucks may have a problem. Add to this any bad blood from coach Alain Vigneault’s criticisms after Hodgson sought medical opinion independent from the Canucks, then there may be some real trouble in paradise.

Dec 022009
 

Recently preliminary rosters for the World Junior Championships were released for a few teams and the Canucks right now have three prospects who have been invited to their respective country’s training camp for the junior tournament. Cody Hodgson is on Canada’s roster, Jordan Schroeder is on the USA’s roster and Anton Rodin is on Team Sweden’s roster.

Hodgson who struggled with a back injury throughout the Canucks pre-season was cleared for contact the same day he was invited to the WJ training camp. The Canucks prospect shone at last year’s tournament setting a new record for points scored in a single World Juniors Championship. He’s one of 7 returning players from last year’s squad, three defenceman and four forwards. He’s going to be relied upon to be a big part of the Canadian team’s leadership and with an unproven junior goaltender in net for Canada again, until the man between the pipes proves his calibre, the Canadians offense is going to win this championship. Hodgson’s coming back better after winning MVP honors in the OHL and his next goal should be to win captaincy of this team. He’s led the Battalion for years, he proved he was clutch and lead the offensive junior juggernaut last year at the same tournament, and he’s going to have to step up and showcase every aspect of his game.

Schroeder is a player that Canucks fans don’t get to see play too often. If you watch University of Minnesota hockey, or have access to it, that’s a different story. Schroeder didn’t make an appearance at the Canucks pre-season camp because he would have had to give up his NCAA eligibility and sign a pro contract. Should Schroeder make the team it’ll be a great chance to see how he’s developed with University of Minnesota in his time since the off season. The World Juniors is a fast paced and passionate tournament and it’ll be a good indicator of the speed and rate at which he can play. The Canucks are moving to build a team around a run-and-gun style hockey. Schroeder is a part of that as much as Cody Hodgson is so here’s to hoping he’s not another first round bust like Patrick White.

Rodin was the Canucks 2nd round pick 53rd overall in the 2009 NHL Entry draft. He’s been playing the year with Brynäs IF of the Elitiserien. He’s likely going to be on the 3rd or 4th lines for the Swedish Junior team and might even see some action on Sweden’s second power play unit. If he makes it he could be playing on a junior team with Flames prospect Tim Erixon and Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson.

The Canucks have a lot to look forward to with these prospects and watching Canucks prospects at the World Juniors is going to make the whole thing that much more exciting. In my mind Hodgson is a shoe in for the team pending back injury and Schroeder will likely make the team as well. Rodin is going to be filling in a bottom 6 forward and I see him as having the least guaranteed spot. I’m certainly looking forward to a Canada/US WJHC final. Watching Hodgson and Schroeder duke it out for their country’s pride could show us a dimension of each player we’ve never seen. The pace of the tournament in it’s short length makes the World Juniors my favourite tournament to watch. Following Canucks prospects in it just adds to the experience.

Oct 052009
 

Sportsnet in the 1st period intermission of the Colorado-Vancouver game were discussing how it has been confirmed that Hodgson has in fact gone to seek a second medical opinion on his back after the first by the Canucks was apparently insufficient. Brian from Canucks Corner saw my tweet about what I thought and his argument is that I’m riding the kid too hard, and that divas are like Celine Dion. Granted Cody isn’t like Celine Dion, so lets refrain from calling him anything just yet.

Firstly this is a professional sports franchise. This is a franchise backed by one Francesco Aquilini, the man who publicly stated that no amount of money was too much when it came to providing this franchise with top level trainers, facilities and equipment. This is a medical staff that has dealt with handing out hockey related prognosis for years, and who deal with injuries on a day to day basis be them small sprains, or long term problems like Schneider or Demitra. This is also a team that has nothing but Hodgson’s best interests in mind. He’s a first round pick, he’s supposed to be a cornerstone to build around in the future, why would they diagnose him incorrectly?

Take a step back. They sent him down before he got his nine games. He doesn’t like it, so he goes for that extra opinion to find a reason, an excuse, or a justification because he thinks he should have made the team. What is he expecting from that? It’s not going to get him his nine games, or a playing spot on the roster. That being said, you can argue the kid just wants to take care of the injury and make sure he’s okay, prevent it from being a long term recurrence which hampers him. But again, the Canucks have nothing but his best interests in mind because he is expected to be the future of this franchise. Getting an extra opinion in my mind serves only to create friction between himself and the club.

The kid hasn’t even played his first NHL game and he’s already calling his own shots? He’s not someone that’s earned the right to do that yet. I don’t see what he’s trying to prove with this. No matter what he gets as a second opinion, it isn’t going to change the fact that he’s still going to have to play another season on the Battalion. Cody’s a victim of circumstance on a team with depth. If he was on a team like Colorado he’d likely be playing on a roster with his buddy Matt Duschene. This isn’t Colorado, and if any position has depth on the Canucks, its at center.

My issue in this if you want to define it, would revolve around his professionalism. Iain MacIntyre points out that he’s had few obstacles in his career and he’s probably left wondering why things didnt work out for him this time around. I don’t buy the “he’s just a kid” argument that everyone’s latched on to. He stopped being a kid when he was drafted by the Canucks. This is a professional league, it’s a business, it’s a place for adults, or at least adult like behavior. He’s expected to act professionally and represent the franchise, not doubt the franchise. Vigneault can sugar coat it to the public and say “He’s entitled to a second opinion” but in my eyes that’s second guessing a franchise that is above him and knows more about this game than he does.

He was sent down, he should go down and bide his time. Work on his game, rehab his back, fight to impress for the captaincy of the World Junior team this winter, and have in his mind nothing but positive progress towards cracking the lineup next season. This doesn’t question his character, his work ethic, or his play. This is simply a matter (in my mind) of his ego. Yes he’s 19, yes he’s a kid, but that doesn’t factor into this. Why he would want to start to rub the club the wrong way is against me. This isn’t going to fragment the team’s relationship with him in any dramatic way at all, but getting picky at such a young age irks me.

I want nothing more than for this kid to come up, to prove me wrong, smash any and all records, win a Calder, create magic we haven’t seen in forever, and take us to a Cup. I speak with tongue in cheek when I this next part, but what will he be doing next? Demanding a trade to San Jose?

Sep 282009
 
Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner celebrate a goal

Photo credit: canucks.com

Since Mike Gillis took over as Canucks GM, there has been a lot of talk about pouring more resources into scouting and player development. After two off-seasons now, it’s easy to see the positive impacts this has had in the system.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner disappointed this preseason, but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve now found out that the organization is deep enough that the team doesn’t have to rush them into the big leagues. They can afford to keep guys like Jordan Schroeder (NCAA), Anton Rodin (Sweden) and Kevin Connauton (WHL) where they can develop better. And while it’s disappointing to see that Hodgson and Grabner aren’t ready for regular NHL duty, it’s easier to digest because others like Sergei Shirokov, Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood seem ready to take on bigger roles.

The pro scouting has improved as well. It wasn’t long ago that the Canucks were signing players like Tommi Santala and Brad Isbister to round up the roster. This summer, Gillis signed college players Eric Walsky and Evan Oberg and under-the-radar players like Tanner Glass, Matt Pope, Aaron Rome and Michael Funk – all of these guys made good impressions on the Canucks brass, and Glass and Rome specifically may have moved right up to the top of the team’s depth chart.

IMHO, the Canucks just finished what was probably their most competitive training camp in their history. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happened at a time when there are players on the bottom part of the system that are able to push the ones on top.

Sep 252009
 

Well, you didn’t expect the Canucks to go 107-0 this season, did you? Without further adieu, here are today’s Canucks-related links:

Sep 242009
 

People seem to have taken out of context the point of my post yesterday. People have misinterpreted what I said to see it as me having given up on Cody and labeling him a prospect bust before he’s had a chance on the team. That’s far from the point I was trying to make.

I’m not one to fall into the brainwash of mainstream media. This city has fallen into a hype around Cody Hodgson and I’m not buying it. Ever since he was drafted he’s been viewed as the second coming of Trevor Linden and not only have the fans been consumed by this, but the media has perpetuated it by continuing to hype Cody and paint him in a light that he’s been unable to live up to in this pre season because of injury and a lack of conditioning in time for the pre-season.

I’m not taking away from the kid’s talent. But he is just a kid. He’s not the second coming yet. With all that in mind, I don’t care if it’s Heatley, or Hodgson I am not a fan of a player that does not earn his spot. After my post yesterday where I accused him of coasting onto the team because it’s be presumed by many that he’s going to get a spot he had a shot to prove what he brings to this team. He did not have a good game. Vigneault even went out of his way to emphasize that Hodgson’s play was not because he was hampered by a back injury.

He wasn’t hampered, he wasn’t playing well, and again he didnt have that edge that made him worth of a spot. My point was that Hodgson isn’t playing right now like deserves a spot on this team. Shirokov and Hodgson aren’t comparable because their styles of play are so different, but you can compare the two on whether they’re fighting to be on this team, and whether they’re playing like they deserve a spot on this team.

Hodgson’s play last night only confirmed that if one of the two players are going to make the team it’s going to be Shirokov. Every one’s going a little coo coo for Shirokov right now, but they have a right to be. The hype around Hodgson just isn’t warranted and I for one am not going to buy into this second coming that everyone think is around the coming, and that everyone expects. Hodgson’s one of the better draft picks the Canucks have had in a long time, he’s one of the few picks recently that we’re actually going to be able to capitalize on (Schneider who’s useless now that we have Luongo, White was a bust, Bourdon may he rest in peace, and Grabner who’s been invisible this pre-season) however I’m not going to treat him as some god child that goes without scrutiny and I’m going to be his largest critic.

Sep 242009
 

Ever the lightning rod for controversy, Richard called Cody Hodgson a prima donna in a post yesterday. Because Hodgson’s age means that he’ll either make the team or be sent back to junior, Richard feels that Hodgson has been dogging it during preseason under the impression that he won’t go back to the league where he won CHL Player of the Year.

Let me get this straight – Cody Hodgson is NOT a prima donna. Far from it. I don’t know how anyone can blame him of being one after a season in which he excelled in the OHL, played in the AHL postseason, and won gold in the World Juniors. From what we’ve seen, he’s answered the call wherever it’s been.

There is a big difference between dogging it in practice and simply not being on par with the rest of the boys. The fact that he’s a step slower and has shown an occasional tendency to throw away the puck doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. It simply means he’s not quite ready for prime time.

It’s entirely likely his back injury, which sidelined him for most of the summer, has played a role in his less-than-stellar preseason. But the bigger question is where the Canucks feel he’s best suited at this point of his development. If they feel he’s ready to play – or develop better – with the big boys, he’ll stay with the team; if they don’t, he’ll go back to Brampton. And in the event he does make the team – which, IMHO, is unlikely anyway – it doesn’t make him a prima donna; it just means the Canucks feel he’s likely to get better with them.

Sep 232009
 

It’s been clear from day one that Shirokov is here to make the NHL. He’s divulged that publically, and he’s made a statement on the ice. Hodgson has looked lacklustre this pre-season at best. Granted he’s had a back in jury that kept him out of the first few games, since his return, he’s been skating but there hasn’t been that edge to his play.

I remember watching him last season at Canucks training camp and in the pre-season game I went to, and you could see that even though he was making rookie mistakes, and was a little nervous, he wanted it. The fact of the matter is he just doesn’t look like he wants it that badly this season. It’s no secret the position he’s in because of his age. Sending him to junior would be on par with career suicide, and since he can’t play in the AHL it seems almost a foregone conclusion that he’s a walk on to this team as a rookie. While the real walk-ons to this team, the Sedins, the Salos the Keslers of this team, can take the pre-season to work out the kinks, and to perhaps “take it easy”, Hodgson by no means has earned the right to do that.

The former Brampton Battalion star in my mind is coasting on a dream here, and taking for granted what’s coming his way. When you look at Shirokov (knee sprain aside) the kid gave up everything in Russia, came here with one goal in mind – cracking the roster – and he’s playing with an edge that’s noticeable in both practice and in a game.

In a Q and A with the Vancouver Sun Shirokov said,

Q: Your former CKSA teammate Nikita Filatov said if the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to send him back to the minors this season, he would have to consider offers from the KHL very seriously. If you’d be sent to Manitoba, would you share the same idea?

A: I don’t think so. If I will be send to the AHL, I will prove that I deserve to play in the NHL.

Read that again – Here I’ll help you.

    If I will be send to the AHL, I will prove that I deserve to play in the NHL.

This kid has character. This kid has it in his mind that he wants to make this team. Hodgson’s free ride I think is getting to his head. He’s dictating how people pronounce his name and he hasn’t played in a regular season NHL game yet.

Granted he’s hailed as the next Trevor Linden, he’s supposed to be the Canucks next star, but he’s certainly not playing like it.

Cody has a lot to prove, and just because he makes the team on what can be seen as a technicality doesn’t mean much. It’s on par with saying Chris Levesque “earned” a spot as the Canucks backup when Skudra was on the verge of being down and out. In my eyes he hasn’t done enough to prove that he’s worthy of being on a team that’s got so much depth it’s embarrassing. He just doesn’t want it as badly as Shirokov does. And if he does, he’s not showing it. No edge, no energy. Just skating back and forth. The Canucks could dress a contending roster without even taking a second look at Mr. Hodsun. Get your head checked kid. Take a lesson from the Russian, he’s got a few years on you.

Sep 162009
 

The topic du jour is the Canucks’ depth on defense. With 10 defensemen on one-way contracts, the competition to be one of the top-6 or even top-8 is fierce. And plus, there’s some Cody Hodgson stuff.

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