A few months ago, the trade winds were swirling and amidst speculation the name of Vancouver Canucks rookie Cody Hodgson was floating around in almost every deal involving the Canucks. Canucks fans might want to rethink dealing the team's rookie after the month he has had.
As a third-line center, Hodgson faces limited minutes, but arguably even averaging 12 minutes a game has the 21-year-old in the running for the top Canuck in January. Prior to the All-Star break, Hodgson had racked up seven points in nine games in the month so far, but it isn't so much the points but rather his ability as two-way player that has gotten him so much praise.
Prior to his time with the Canucks, Hodgson was never pushed to be accountable defensively. In his brief time in the show, Hodgson has completely altered his game and is now a terrific young two-way player in the NHL.
Over the past month, Hodgson is an even player, and has helped the Canucks to victory in unofficial stats in the shootout. Not only has Hodgson been a key piece in helping the team to victory and staying in competition atop the NHL's Western Conference, but his playmaking ability has been substantially improved.
Hodgson has been excellent at breaking out of the zone, finding the open man and splitting the defense to create chances in the offensive zone. Even though he only officially has 20 shots so far in January, he has created several scoring chances, and put the puck in places where his teammates can create the opportunity to score.
Once trade bait, Cody Hodgson has finally matured into a Canucks player of the future. Although he may not be the offensive juggernaut the Canucks thought they were getting when they drafted him, he has shaped into a typical Canucks player who is just as strong defensively as he is offensively. If Hodgson can carry over what he has been doing lately after the All-Star break and down the stretch, he has a solid chance and getting Rookie of the Year honors in the NHL this year.
John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist
Follow John on Twitter: @JohnBainSports