The 2013 season has not been kind to the Buffalo Sabres, but the team has proven it has two great offensive weapons in Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson. While there is no doubt Vanek is a big part of the team’s plans moving forward, Hodgson is slated to be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Given his performance this season, it would be a wise move for the Sabres to secure his services for the future as they try and rebuild their team.
Hodgson was the 10th overall pick of the 2008 draft, chosen by the Vancouver Canucks. He battled injuries for most of his time in the organization but managed to appear in 63 NHL games for the Canucks last season. He scored 16 goals and added 17 assists before a somewhat surprising trade deadline move sent him and Alexander Sulzer to the Sabres for Marc-Andre Gragnani and Zack Kassian. During the lockout, Hodgson scored five goals and reached 19 points for the Rochester Americans, and has been a solid contributor in Buffalo since the work stoppage ended. In 24 games this season, he has 10 goals and 11 assists, trailing only Vanek on the team scoring leaderboard.
If the Sabres hope to improve their fortunes in coming seasons, hanging on to a player like Hodgson is a great starting point. He has proven he can be a reliable goal scorer and an almost point-per-game player in the NHL, and has great speed and great puck control. He is also a threat in shorthanded situations, leading the Sabres with two points while playing a man down. The best thing is, he’s only 23 years old and should keep getting better over the next few seasons.