Vancouver Canucks: Where Does Hodgson End Up with Ryan Kesler's Return Looming?

John BainCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2011

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 22: Cody Hodgson #39 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Edmonton Oilers on September 22, 2011 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Canucks won 2-1. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

With the return of Ryan Kesler to the Vancouver Canucks announced as a whole lot sooner than expected earlier today, it puts the future of his temporary replacement in jeopardy.

Cody Hodgson was set to finally get his opportunity with the Canucks for the better part of the first quarter of the 2011 NHL season, as Kesler was predicted to be out until mid- to late-November recovering from hip surgery, but earlier today it was announced that Kesler will be back in just 5-6 games.

So much for Hodgson's test run on the second line, and now his future with the team is up in the air.

The Canucks were anticipating a breakout year from their top prospect, but with the return of Ryan Kesler coming so soon, Hodgson's role on the team is about to change. Unless Alain Vigneault chooses to put Hodgson on the wing on the second line, he doesn't really have anywhere else to play.

As a result of the depth of the Canucks roster, and a solidified third and fourth line, there isn't anywhere for Hodgson to slide into the line up.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis has said in the past that if Hodgson isn't getting ice time to progress his skill, then he is better suited for the AHL, but with just two years left on his entry-level deal before he is a restricted free agent, this might be Hodgson's time to make a move. 

If the Canucks don't keep Hodgson with the big club, they might as well trade him to a team that needs a top prospect or a talented young player ready to play in the NHL. If they do trade him, they will probably package him up to get a scorer or some draft picks.

At this point it is more beneficial for both sides to part ways. It gives the Canucks leverage in a trade, and Hodgson finally gets the opportunity to display his talents on a nightly basis.

The return of Ryan Kesler just doesn't allow the Canucks leeway to do much with Hodgson. If the Canucks keep him up, they better be playing him on the wing every game, or it is just a waste of talent.

Either way, the Canucks will need to make a big decision as to the future of Hodgson soon.