Cody Hodgson had an assist in the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday, but for the Sabres centre it was just his eighth point of the season.
Hodgson failed to be the player the Vancouver Canucks were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round in 2008 and has been almost equally disappointing since the trade that brought him to Buffalo.
Hodgson was traded by the Canucks to the Sabres on trade deadline day back in 2012. He was part of a four player deal that saw him and defenceman Alexander Sulzer exchanged for forward Zack Kassian and defender Marc-Andre Gragnani. The deal initially came as a shock to Canucks fans as at the time of the trade Hodgson had 16 goals and 33 points in 63 games, not bad for a player playing in his first full-season in the NHL.
However, fast forward nearly three years later and not only do the Canucks seem to be over the trade, but it seems like neither team has really benefited greatly from the deal.
Though it was expected that the Buffalo Sabres would challenge for the worst record in the league this season, not many would have expected it to be this bad and even fewer would have predicted such a poor campaign from Hodgson. He is having the worst season of his career and is on pace for just 12 points.
He has averaged just 13:36 of ice-time this season with his highest total being 18:40. He has been a healthy scratch on two occasions this season and has a shooting percentage of just 3.2%. The 24-year-old set career highs last season racking up 20 goals and 44 points in 72 games. He is playing on the third line on the worst team in the NHL, not where one would expect the 10th overall pick in 2008 to be.
When the Canucks sent Sulzer to the Sabres they were including a defenceman that had struggled to find a permanent spot with a NHL club. Originally drafted by the Nashville Predators, he played parts of three seasons with the team before being traded to the Florida Panthers. He would play just nine games with the Cats before joining the Canucks for the 2011-12 season.
He played just 12 games with the Nucks and tallied just one assist in his short time with the team. After being dealt to the Sabres, he would play 15 games in 2012 putting up eight points and then parts of the next two years, finishing with six goals and 14 points in 57 total games in Buffalo.
Sulzer has since moved on from the NHL and is now playing in the DEL, the German Hockey League. He is playing for Kolner Haie, where in his first season with the club he has five goals and 21 points in 35 games. Not bad for a defender, but not good when considered he didn’t pan out for the Sabres.
Kassian turned out to be the most valuable part of the trade for the Canucks. Though he hasn’t put up any incredible numbers, with his best season coming last year when he had 14 goals and 29 points in 73 games. But Kassian has shown that when healthy and on his game, he can be very effective.
He plays a very physical game, hitting, fighting, and being a real pest against the opposition, as his 124 penalty minutes last year would suggest. He has also shown that he can chip in offensively, though his biggest problem seems to be consistency. He has found himself up and down the lineup for the Canucks ever since he joined the team.
He has also struggled to stay in the lineup having missed 23 games this season and prior to last year’s 73 games, his previous high was 39. Like Hodgson, he is only 24 and should have a lot of hockey ahead of him and though he has the potential to be an impact player so far he has not produced on a very sustained level.
Though he may not have been considered the biggest part of the trade when it first went down, Gragnani had the potential to be the most talented player next to Hodgson in the deal. He was a point per game defenceman in junior where he played in the QMJHL and was a stud in the American Hockey League.
He spent his time in the AHL prior to the trade with the Rochester Americans and the Portland Pirates where he had 47 goals and 206 points in 283 games. He lead the AHL in points by a defenceman during the 2010-11 season with Portland racking up 60 in 63 games. He would also collect the league’s Eddie Shore Award as the league’s best defenceman.
He had small stints with the Sabres after being drafted by the team in the third round in 2005. The longest coming during the 2011-12 campaign where he played 44 games tallying 12 points. He would play just 14 games with Vancouver following the trade, joining the Carolina Hurricanes the following season. There he would play just one game with the Canes, playing the majority of the time in the AHL.
Last year he joined HC Lev Praha of the KHL and after putting up just nine points in 42 games, moved on to the NLA (in Switzerland). This year he looks to have rekindled his offence, having put up seven goals and 34 points in 44 games with Bern. However, picking up his game now means nothing for the trade if he isn’t doing so in Vancouver.
Hodgson is not living up to his potential, Kassian has failed to find consistency and Sulzer and Gragnani are no longer playing in the NHL. At the time of the deal it seemed almost shocking that the Canucks had given up on their first round pick so quickly. But whether that is the case or not it seems today that neither team has really won in this exchange.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.