It’s been over a year since the Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian trade, and I’m still not happy about it.
I have noticed that there’s an increasingly large faction on Twitter that is trying to re-write history, trying to dismiss Hodgson’s strong play from last season despite what we all saw. Nobody criticized his play before the trade, but after the trade a movement began to theorize that he was put in favourable situations and that’s the reason why he succeeded.
Was Hodgson put in favourable situations last year? The advanced stats people will have you believe this, and I believe them. But Hodgson succeeded with those favourable minutes, and to say that anyone would have succeeded with those minutes is ludicrous. If it was that easy, every team’s third line centre would have 20 goals.
This season, Cody Hodgson is playing on the first line in Buffalo and is second in team scoring (even though he isn’t playing on the first unit power play). He has the plum position of playing with Tomas Vanek, thus putting him in a position to succeed. And succeed he has with 21 points in 25 games. Despite the criticism of being a terrible defensive player, he is a respectable -1 rating on a bad Buffalo team.
The funny thing about being put in a position to succeed is that not everyone does. Jordan Schroeder plays on the power play more than Hodgson and is on the first unit at the moment, yet he has only 5 points.
I don’t like the Cody Hodgson trade, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like Zack Kassian. He is a big, strong player with good hands and is the type of player that is difficult to acquire… That is, if Kassian develops into the player we all hope he will. A big strong winger that scores 30 goals is hard to acquire, a big strong winger that scores 10 goals is relatively easy to acquire.
At the moment, Kassian has good potential. But is he a second line winger on a championship team? I’m not sure he is. I think he shows good vision, but he only has 3 assists. Until Kassian develops into a regular scoring threat and a fixture on the Canucks’ second line, this trade is not good for the Canucks today. And the Canucks are trying to win the cup today.
A big, gritty winger is nice to have. But so is a talented centre who can score.
Cody Hodgson without a doubt would have helped the Canucks more in last year’s playoffs (where Zack Kassian ended up as a healthy scratch) and he would help them more this season. If Kassian ends up being more valuable in the playoffs then I’ll have to reconsider, but I just don’t think he will, at least not this season. And if that is the case, then that is two years of the Canucks window where they have hurt their chances of hoisting the Stanley Cup by making this trade.