Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mike Gillis didn't build Cody Hodgson into anything

“We built [Hodgson] into something we could move.”
- Mike Gillis

Regardless of if the Canucks did or did not build Cody Hodgson into something they could move, you should ask yourself this instead -- did they even have to?

Think about it. 

Cody Hodgson was drafted 10th overall in the 2008 draft then the following season had 92 points in 53 OHL games, along with 16 points in 6 world junior games for Canada as he led them to gold, followed by 31 points in 21 OHL playoff games and then after all of that, six more points in 11 AHL playoff games. 

That was a hell of a season from a great prospect. Considering Hodgson was drafted 10th that year, what did his value grow to after that subsequent season? I won't put an exact value on it, but it's safe to say his value definitely grew after that year.

Then what happened? 

He hurt his back in the summer and the Canucks' team doctors diagnosed the injury to be a bulging disc when it was actually a strained muscle (which was found out over a year later). So not only did they misdiagnose the injury, but because they did they prescribed a treatment that ultimately aggravated the injury even more. So he then predictably had a poor preseason with Vancouver as his back continued to bother him. 

A few months in and his back still hurt? Would it not make sense to go get another opinion on the injury after the original prescribed treatment was not only not helping him, but actually hurting him even more? Cody Hodgson thought the same thing, so he sought a second opinion.

And you know what happened when he did that? The coach in Vancouver called him out for attempting to shift the attention away from his poor preseason by looking for a second opinion on his back.

Yeah, it definitely had nothing to do with the fact that the Canucks' doctors diagnosed it incorrectly in the first place.

Thus, in a relatively short span the Canucks literally drafted a high profile player 10th overall, saw his stock/value soar, then saw him get hurt, then misdiagnose his injury and have him play through it, then blame him for a poor preseason.

The following season was obviously a wash for Hodgson because he didn't play much, but he came back in 2010-2011 and played his first pro season of hockey registering a modest 30 points in 52 games that year. 

Which leads us to this year. 
This trade had nothing to do with Hodgson's one good
month in which Gillis supposedly "built" him.

Hodgson started the season in Vancouver with 20 points in his first 39 games. Then came what Gillis referred to as "building him into something they could move," and Hodgson had 10 points in 11 January games, followed by three points in 13 February games.

So that was building him up? That one great month of hockey? That's what caused Mike Gillis to talk as if he has the secret to success all figured out and that secret is to start Hodgson in the offensive zone? Even if starting him in the offensive zone does prove to raise his point totals exponentially -and Hodgson's going to be a really good two way player anyways let's not kid ourselves- Buffalo could just, you know, start Hodgson in the offensive zone too. I'm sure playing between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pomminville will help him out as well. This isn't rocket science.

So yeah, I got a kick out of Mike Gillis saying "We built him into something we could move," because what did they move him for?

It's not as if they inflated his numbers to show a team that he can produce right away and is thus worth trading an established player for.

In other words, they didn't exactly showcase him to another organization and say to them "hey, Hodgson is a fantastic contributor right now, so now we're going to ask for a fantastic contributor back that can help our Cup chances this year." 

What did they get back? Zack Kassian. How much did Kassian play after they got him? Was he even a slight factor in the playoffs? They traded somewhat proven, for even less proven, and they had to build that value up?

That's nothing against Kassian because I think he's going to be a heck of a player, but when? Two, three, four years from now? So what are you building up Hodgson for? They saw his value go sky high, failed to find any sort of harmony with him and then watched him play a solid rookie season. Where's the value build up here?

Sure Hodgson had a great January but does anyone think the Buffalo Sabres acquired Hodgson based on one good month of hockey?

It's a laughable thought at best. Cody Hodgson is 22, a 10th overall pick who has been successful at every level and he's a center. And hey, what do you know, Buffalo needs a center. 

But apparently the Sabres acquired him because he had one good month of hockey in January in which the Canucks started him in basically every offensive situation they could by continually putting him out for offensive zone faceoffs.

Plus, whether you believe in advanced stats or not, if you're a scout going to a Canucks game to solely watch Cody Hodgson you would have to be a moron to not see that he's starting all the time in the offensive zone. 

Yet after losing in five games to the LA Kings we all had to sit there and listen to Gillis arrogantly proclaim how they built up Hodgson into something they could move? Maybe they should have just:

1) Traded him when his value was sky high in 2008-2009.

2) Get some doctors who can properly diagnose a back injury.

3) Not try to deflect blame and put attention on Hodgson after an early playoff exit. 

In 2008 you'd be hard pressed to find a soul who would rather have Zack Kassian than Cody Hodgson. Same for 2009. In 2010? That's when it gets interesting because Hodgson hasn't been playing because he had a screwed up back that probably could have been cured sooner. So 2011 roles around and we barely even know what we have with Hodgson at this point and Kassian is still a solid prospect whose been a bit of a headcase (lengthy suspensions, arrested and charged --although it was eventually dropped). Hodgson started the year in the NHL, Kassian began in the AHL which isn't a huge deal because Hodgson is a year older.  Kassian was playing great in the AHL and was called up to the NHL where he played modesty. Meanwhile Hodgson, as noted above, was also having a pretty modest start to his NHL career.

Yet Gillis made it sound as if this trade was a simple by product of spending some extra time on Hodgson to boost his numbers in the second half of just this season. How on earth would one good month of hockey where Gillis "built him" even mean anything? You don't acquire a 22 year old Cody Hodgson for this season, you acquire him for the next 10. That means you go back and research everything you know about this kid and already have in your system, right from his NHL draft report. Hodgson went 10th to Vancouver the year Buffalo drafted Tyler Myers two picks later, you don't think they have a book of Hodgson from that alone? Of course they do. And they probably continued to add to it as time went on (NHL teams generally keep updated records of the top 5 prospects, according to their own rankings of course, of every other team in the league). 

“We built [Hodgson] into something we could move.”
- Mike Gillis

Alright then. 

At best this was Mike Gillis cleaning up a mistake. At worst this is him mishandling a talented player.  

Yet there he was at the end of the season, throwing Hodgson under the bus and saying he was the problem. That Gillis spent more time on him than every other player combined. 

What Gillis said embarrassed the Sabres, a fine young hockey player and person in Cody Hodgson and most importantly -especially to his own big ego- himself. 

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