Lost in all the childlike “he said, he said” and “my brother can beat up your brother” rhetoric that has been flying back and forth between Vancouver and Boston the past few days is the impressive start Canucks centre Cody Hodgson has had. It’s a start that could end with him bringing in some Calder hardware this summer.
Fans in Vancouver have been fretting over the former No. 1 draft pick for a while.
Was he overrated? Was he injury prone? Was he ever going to pan out as a prospect?
All this before he reached the age of 20.
Hodgson got a sniff of the NHL last year and did not do much. That just added to the worry in Vancouver as many pointed to his 20 games (including the playoffs) and three-point performance as proof he was a bust.
The problem is that you can not judge a player on 20 games, especially when he was an injury fill in on a team that was tops in the league for most of the season.
This year Hodgson is showing why Vancouver drafted him as high as they did and is now pushing for the Calder trophy.
In the big game against Boston, Hodgson may have been the best player on the ice and scored the game winner on a nice slapper that handcuffed Tim Thomas early in the third period.
Hodgson has been coming up big all year.
In his 42 games this season he has tallied 10 goals and 24 points. He also has a nice plus-seven and has been the quarterback of the team’s second-unit power play.
Can he win the Calder though?
After the first week of the season, Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had that trophy wrapped up. Nugent-Hopkins has come back to earth a bit and now is dealing with an injury that is going to allow the other rookies to catch up.
Hodgson still has to get past New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, Nashville’s Craig Smith and Philadelphia’s Matt Read in the rookie scoring race to push Nugent-Hopkins. He has his work cut out for him, but he also has some things working for him.
Vancouver is a talented team that scores a lot of goals. Hodgson is arguably going to get to play with more talented players than some of his rookie competitors are. Right now he is the third-line centre for Vancouver.
When David Booth returns from injury either he or Mayson Raymond will end up as one of Hodgson’s wingers. This will help his chances of raising his point totals even further.
The one thing that can stand in his way is his ice time. While playing for a loaded team gets him more opportunities, it also means less ice time than his competitors.
While Hodgson has been a good centre, he is not going to supplant Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kessler as the top two guys for Vancouver. Because of that, Hodgson’s ice time has been somewhat limited, and for good reason.
Despite that, Hodgson has been on a roll and settling into the NHL nicely. He gives the Canucks a formidable third line and, as he showed in Boston, another sniper on the power play.
If he keeps this level of play up he may just catch Nugent-Hopkins and get his name on the Calder after all.