Consistency can be a wild beast to tame for hockey players.
It’s not uncommon whatsoever for most players to have up years and down years. This is especially true for younger individuals, who are still fleshing out their understanding of the nuances of being a professional hockey player.
But none of that comes even close to explaining what’s going on this season with Buffalo Sabres forward Cody Hodgson.
Hodgson is currently in his third full season with the Sabres, having joined the team in 2012 after being traded by the Vancouver Canucks. The relationship started swimmingly for both parties, with Hodgson finishing second on the Sabres in scoring during the shortened 2013 season (34 points in 48 games) and then leading them in scoring last season (44 points in 72 games).
Maybe Hodgson pulled an Icarus and flew too close to the sun, because he’s fallen to the earth like a rock so far this year. Throughout 48 games he only has two goals and seven points, which currently puts him 14th on the Sabres.
Hodgson’s average time on ice, not surprisingly, has fallen dramatically in tandem, from 18:08 last season (6th among forwards) down to 13:38 this year (12th).
The situation has gone from bad to worse lately, as Hodgson was made a healthy scratch on Friday night against his former team in Vancouver, the second time this season that he’s watched a game from the press box.
On one hand, the argument could be made that Hodgson has been unlucky this year, and it wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Hodgson’s corsi relative to his teammates is actually better than it was last season, and his shooting percentage has plummeted from 11% all the way down to a ridiculously low, and long overdue to bump up, 3.2%. And, let’s be real, when you play on a team that’s as abjectly terrible in all areas as the last-place Sabres are, well, all bets are kind of off.
Still, all of that doesn’t provide any real answers as to how a young, skilled offensive player goes from 0.61 points-per-game one season down to 0.15 the next.
The saving grace for Hodgson is that he’s still only 24 years old, so he has a lot of years of hockey left in him. But for a rebuilding team like the Sabres that is trying to accumulate as much young talent as possible, and had invested a lot in Hodgson when they signed him to a huge six-year, $25.5 million in September of 2013, there have to be some serious concerns about the direction that things are going right now.
Derek Neumeier primarily covers the Dallas Stars, but also other various topics related to the sport of hockey. A Journalism graduate of Mount Royal University, Derek also writes for Defending Big D, and has done previous work with the Edmonton Oilers as a communications intern and Hockey Canada as a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @Derek_N_NHL