When I heard the news the Vancouver Canucks were sending Cody Hodgson back to junior, my first thought was darn, I picked him up cheaply last season in my keeper hockey pool.
Then I started thinking of the ramifications outside my pool and I still didn’t like the decision. By all accounts he had a poor camp and was beaten out of a job on Vancouver’s top two lines by the very impressive Sergei Shirokov. Fair enough.
I’m a big believer in not rushing young teenaged prospects along, erring on the side of letting them develop for another season rather than fast-track them before they’re ready, which is what the Toronto Maple Leafs did with London’s Nazim Kadri. But this case is different.
How much more can Hodgson prove in junior hockey? He was the Canadian League’s player of the year for Brampton last season, a stalwart on Canada’s national junior team and voted the No. 2 prospect outside the NHL in The Hockey News Future Watch 2009 behind Nikita Filatov of Columbus.
Unfortunately, Hodgson sustained an injury at Canada’s national junior team summer camp and his conditioning wasn’t optimal in Vancouver. That contributed to his less than expected performance. Sadly, that cost him an entire season in the NHL.
Hodgson will surely say and do all the right things in junior this season, but I wouldn’t blame him if he felt a little slighted for getting short shifts in the pre-season and a short shrift in his big-league trial. Sometimes a player’s development stalls because he’s not pushed enough at a certain level. I hope that doesn’t happen with Hodgson.
Here are a few other observations during the first weekend of the new season.
• So much for the new-look defense oriented Calgary Flames. The Brent Sutter-shaped Flames looked absolutely dreadful in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks Thursday, getting outshot 21-7 while nursing a two-goal lead.
Calgary was outshot 42-23 on the game and if not for the shaky goaltending by Roberto Luongo in the first period, would have lost on home ice.
Loved Calgary’s new throwback 1980s jerseys, which they’ll wear a limited amount this season against Canadian teams.
• Kevin Weekes showed a lot of potential Thursday as the new color analyst on CBC’s late games. While there was certainly a few rough patches and awkward handoffs back to play-by-play man Mark Lee, Weekes was insightful and authoritative talking in specifics rather than clichés and generalities. He’s only going to get better as time goes on.
• Two players I really meant to draft in the office pool: Florida’s Michael Frolik and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux. I think both will have bust-out offensive seasons and I was hoping they’d slip an extra round under the radar. Didn’t happen.
That’s the problem with being in a pool with a group of people who really follow the game. There’s no such thing as a late-round gift unless you get lucky on a player like Kris Versteeg last season. This season’s Versteeg? Maybe Shirokov in Vancouver.
• Speaking of bust-out seasons, maybe it’s time we cut defenseman Bryan McCabe some slack in Florida. With Jay Bouwmeester off to Calgary, McCabe is a strong candidate to rebound from 23 and 39 points the past two seasons back up to the 50- or 60-point range he hit while in his prime in Toronto.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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