Buffalo Sabres: What is Wrong With Cody Hodgson?

It’s no secret the Buffalo Sabres are tanking the 2014-15 season, with a view to hopefully put themselves into position to draft Connor McDavid. As such, it comes as little surprise to see them currently propping up the Eastern Conference, with the NHL’s worst record.

However, what may shock some people is how bad the Sabres have been so far. At their current pace, they would set franchise records for fewest wins and points in a season – and that includes strike-shortened campaigns.

Hodgson Reflects Sabres Struggles This Season

As you’d expect, the Sabres current record is reflected in the individual performances of the players. Perhaps best representing this season’s struggles is the play of Cody Hodgson.

(Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE)
(Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE)

Even as the Sabres organisation braced themselves for a challenging 2014-15 campaign, various hockey experts still expected Hodgson to be one of the few shining lights. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be anything but true.

With two points and a plus/minus of -10 through 18 games, the Toronto-born native is on course for one of the worst seasons of his professional career. Hodgson’s lowest return to date is the 2010-11 campaign with the Vancouver Canucks, when he registered just two points.

However, the 24-year old can be excused for that output. Not only was it his debut season in the NHL, but he also only featured in eight games.

Why is Hodgson Playing So Poorly?

The question is; why is Hodgson having such a poor season for the Sabres? Part of the problem lies with the talented winger’s head coach, Ted Nolan.

This is in no way a criticism of Nolan, but how much does moving Hodgson back and forth between the wing and centre position actually help? What the Sabres head coach sees as an attempt to galvanise him, may actually be unsettling for the 2008 10th overall draft pick.

Like most people, athletes are creatures of habit. Rather than sparking a player, constantly moving someone around can potentially compromise any attempts to get some consistency from them.

What to Expect Moving Forward

Despite the concerns, it’s not like Hodgson suddenly became a bad player overnight. This is still the same guy capable of scoring 40+ points per season, as evidenced by 78 points in 120 games during the last two campaigns:

The Sabres will obviously be hoping Hodgson returns to form sooner rather than later. They have a lot of money invested, after signing him to a six-year $25.5 million extension ahead of last season.

Personally, I believe the Sabres and their fans are just going to have to accept that Hodgson is likely to struggle for most of this season. No matter how skilled you are, hockey is a team game and you are only as strong as your weakest link.

5 thoughts on “Buffalo Sabres: What is Wrong With Cody Hodgson?”

  1. I watched a lot of Hodgson’s games back when he was playing in the WJC. I was never enamoured with his skating and I don’t believe he has NHL speed. His vision and creativity are good, but he should not be playing center in the NHL because of his skating. I think he’s in transition right now, but I think he’ll be fine once he settles on left wing with a talented center. Given the talent Buffalo is set to acquire I think Hodgson has a really good chance to up his game considerably. He has clearly lost his confidence right now and is under performing, but he has far too much talent for this to be anything but a blip. Next season he’ll likely re-gain his confidence and in two years I believe he’ll be a productive top line left winger. I think he’s a really good buy low candidate for any fantasy team.

  2. Hodgson’s foot speed is terrible it’s not lack of desire (watch him try to catch anyone when he loses the puck). He can’t keep up with quicker players. He needs to be coached on how to compensate in the defensive zone (e.g. stay in the center of the ice). He’s a very intelligent hockey player but seems to have a bit of an attitude problem. He does have offensive capabilities but his lack of speed means he is not a fit with quicker players. He needs to be paired with linemates that will get the puck and then play more of a side to side game than up and down.

  3. Wrong. This has nothing to do with coaching, the problem with Hodgson is he’s a defensive liability, always has been. He would be in any coaches doghouse. Sure he can score but how can you reward a player with top line minutes when he doesn’t have the skillset/desire to play responsible hockey. How do you think he will fit into the teams future with his 4,250,000 cap hit combined with the fact Buffalo may land McDavid?

    • One Sabres fan blogger wrote that Hodgson looks like he’s slightly terrified when he’s in the Sabres end. If his back is still bothering him then that would explain his complete lack of physicality. Kassian might be a knucklehead at times but he would have brought the Sabres a character, toughness, surprisingly good hands and vision.

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