Buffalo Sabres Free Agency: Cody Hodgson

By Rafal Ladysz
Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports

With the National Hockey League‘s free agency frenzy slightly over a month away, the Buffalo Sabres will be faced with some in-house decisions regarding the status of certain players. We intend to look at each situation, provide some analysis (the key word is some) and share our opinion on where they will wind up. Who shall stay and who will depart? We’ll be starting with Cody Hodgson.

Contract Details: Pending restricted free agent

Last Year: Salary of $787,000 and cap hit of $1.667 million

Age: 23

The Scoop: Obtained a year ago in a four-player deal, Hodgson was given ample opportunity immediately as former head coach Lindy Ruff matched him up with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. With the Vancouver Canucks, his unrealized potential was caused by his use as a third line center mostly, as Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler were ahead of him in the pecking order. Although Hodgson’s play cooled off in the second half, his offensive gifts were unquestionable and lent explanation as to why he was drafted tenth overall in 2008.

Why They Would Want to Keep Him: On a team that was starved of scoring, Hodgson was a legitimate threat to light the lamp, even on his bad days. When Pominville left and the line was ripped apart his play curtailed, but those struggles are expected from someone who is still at a raw age. He has it in him to score the big goals or provide them for teammates, a duo of danger that defenders will respect.

What Will Worry Them: The center position is demanding of those who accept it, and Hodgson learned that the hard way. Buffalo’s goal production was high when he was on the ice, but the goals against were disastrous as teams averaged 3.64 goals per 60 minutes in even strength time against him. In the face-off circle, he needs some fine tuning and should look to get that number above 50 percent in the future. More experience will be rewarding towards his confidence, but for the time being, he should not be perceived as someone who can be the club’s No.1 center that they have longed for throughout the years.

Final Verdict: Barring a brain malfunction, something that general manager Darcy Regier does endure here and there, Hodgson will be inked to a new contract. His upside is fantastic and the troubles he has faced will only help him understand what he has to achieve to be a superior forward for years to come.

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