Hello guys. Just another refugee trying to fit into a new environment here (but oddly I'm seeing lots of old faces?)
GMMG's moves so far shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. Sturm to fill-in for that useless all-speed-but-nothing Mason Raymond, Higgins was retained for his versatility and Lapierre for his effectiveness in the bottom two lines. The other signings are depth moves for the farm team.
Now what concerns me is the future outlook of Cody Hodgson, who was once a highly coveted rookie but now might have problem finding a spot as a center on this team in the near future.
Here's a breakdown of our current centers contract situation:
H.Sedin: 6.1million with NTC until 2013/14 season.
R. Kesler: 5 million with NTC until 2015/16 season.
M. Malhotra: 2.5 million with NTC until 2012/13 season.
M. Lapierre: 1 million until 2012/13 season.
Top 3 centers are here to stay for at least another two years. Granted Hodgson is still fairly young at age 21, but it is widely believed that he should start his training in the NHL come next season. But with all 4 centers taking up the spots for at least two more seasons, where will Hodgson fit? The above mentioned 4 centers all have above average faceoff skills and are perfectly comfortable in this position. Sedin and Kesler shouldn't be brought into discussion because that's not where Hodgson will be playing. So do we ask Malhotra to shift over to wing and thereby sacrificing some of his effectiveness at center? Or do we plant Hodgson on the plugger line so he can try to gain experience in very limited ice time?
Another issue would be if we do plant Hodgson either on the 3rd line or the 4th line with limited ice-time, can he successfully escape from AV's doghouse? Hodgson is not a AV-type plugger. Currently He lacks the size and speed to play as an effective checker on the 3rd line and playing with other pluggers on the 4th line is not going to do him any good either.
Just how the Canucks management decides to groom him is going to be interesting come this season.
Then perhaps they should try to convert him to a winger? whereby he can be allowed to learn the game at his own pace. However; as it has been mentioned already, he doesn't have the size we need on the 3rd line and it is fairly uncertain whether AV will give Hodgson enough chances. And Hodgson's natural position is center, we know how scarce a good young center is nowadays.
Some have suggested to put Hodgson alongside Malhotra the next season or have Malhotra shift over to LW so in any case it'll secure Hodgson's guaranteed ice-time. And have Hodgson run the 2nd PP unit since the Canucks desperate need someone who can set up the 2nd PP. I think this is a very good idea but once again, this really depends on AV.
Our dominance in the offensive statistics from the past two seasons have shown that we can afford to groom a rookie on the 2nd PP and honestly, of the current line-up who hasn't been tried at 2nd PP center? This cannot be a better chance for Hodgson.
But should MG acquire any more size/grit player for the bottom two lines, or a top 6 winger via trade, I simply cannot imagine Hodgson playing in the NHL next season.
So perhaps Hodgson should suck it up and try to tear up the AHL next season while awaiting call-ups. Afterall, barring any major trade, there will be two center spots opening in two years (with Sedin and Malhotra's contract expiring).
Though I do see us extending the Sedins so perhaps in two years our top 3 centers will be like:
That is, provided Hodgson is growing as expected.
What do you think?
1) 3rd line center and 2nd PP center;
2) 3rd line winger and 2nd PP center;
3) 4th line scrub earning limited experience; or
4) one more year in the AHL but on calls.
Hockey is Life, Nothing Else Matters