Canucks sell high on Cody Hodgson

The Vancouver Canucks, as we all know by know, dealt Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres for Zack Kassian, a winger described as a “rumbling bull” by TSN’s Ray Ferraro. Also involved in the deal was Buffalo defenseman Marc-André Gragnani.

We knew that the deal might involve a Canuck minor leaguer, as Chicago Wolves general manager Wendell Young alerted the media that a trade affect the Canucks’ AHL affiliate around noon Pacific time, but we didn’t know to what extent this might affect the team. Perhaps they indicated that Kassian may play with the Wolves for the rest of the season.

Kassian, a 6’3″, 228 lb behemoth who played on Canada’s World Junior team in Buffalo, scored 77 points in just 56 games for the Windsor Spitfires in 2011. This season, Kassian has 15 goals in 30 games with Rochester of the AHL and 3 goals in 27 games with the Sabres.

Shipping out Hodgson and replacing him with Pahlsson is a move that benefits the Canucks in the short-term, even if that wasn’t what we were expecting from Mike Gillis. Pahlsson is a centreman who can play the tough minutes in place of Hodgson, who has had to take on some sheltered shifts which increased his production past December. It was clear to the Canucks that Hodgson wasn’t going to fit into this organization in the future as a centreman behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, or at least not in their championship window.

So Pahlsson gives the Canucks a second checking line, as it would appear, while they unload Hodgson when his value is the highest, after a pretty good run of scoring in January. In return the Canucks get a winger prospect, one who can play at the NHL level right now. They also pick up Gragnani, who isn’t a bad defenseman in his own right.

Gragnani should be the big part in this deal: a 3rd round pick in 2005, Gragnani has just a goal on the powerplay this season, but he’s a very positive possession player, albeit playing very sheltered minutes on the Buffalo blue line. But that’s the sort of player that fits into the Vancouver system. He’s listed as a defenseman on the Sabres website, but Behind The Net has him at left wing, which tells you a little bit about his game. He’ll be a high-events guy that can open the game up, and may be a complement to Alex Edler in that regard, or provide a little bit of offensive flair on the Canucks’ third pairing with either Aaron Rome or Chris Tanev.

As for Kassian, he’s just big. We know of the big head hit he laid on Petr Senkerik in last year’s World Juniors:

Really, he’s the Milan Lucic-type of player that the Canucks really need. He’s a player who could slot in to either the second or third line on the wing and earn a few powerplay minutes.

Kassian may not be the fit for the Canucks this season, but Pahlsson is the upgrade at centreman that the Canucks need for the playoffs. It gives the Canucks a line that they don’t have to shelter to ensure that they’ll be productive and while they could lose a bit of offense from their depth positions in the short-term, they’ll be a little tighter defensively in the playoff run to come.

  • I can NOT believe this. What a panic move.

    Canucks get 2 young rookies with ZERO playoff experience, and they want to win the Cup NOW?!? I am so infuriated I need to go for a run.

    If Gillis really wanted to move Coho, wait till summer when he could have got more. NO TEAM even knew Coho would be moved, Gillis doesn’t know what he could have got. I want Gillis fired now. NOW.

    • I think you are overreacting a little. CoHo has had some great moments with us, but he has top 6 forward potential with no opportunity to grow on the canucks playing behind Kesler and Henrik. In Kassian we get a piece we’ve been missing. We’re better today and we’ll be far better next year for this trade.

    • Clutchy McNuck

      Actually Hodgson said in the TSN interview that Tanev told him he was traded, or thought he was. I think you’re having a little panic attack and need to calm down about this.

  • I am not sure if I care for this deal, I’d rather see Hodgson in a canucks uniform but that’s hockey I guess. Gillis has done a good job so far maybe he sees something in Kassian that we don’t. I don’t think he’s ready to help us in the playoffs right now but we did pick up Pahlson.

    TSN is going on about how this is the end of our grit problem and now we can be tough going into the playoffs and thats what lost them the stanley cup.

    But what about this D man? Is he good enough to be playing right now? Can he be placed on the right side? Can he play top four minutes?

    • Gragnani is a great skating, puck moving D. I’ve been impressed with him any time I’ve watched the Sabres play. When you consider the fact that the Canucks gave up Sulzer (their 9th? 10th? Dman) for a legit, young NHLer – there’s no question that the Canucks got a huge upgrade there.

  • I don’t exactly understand why Gillis gave up someone helping us now (Hodgson) for someone projected to help us in a year or two (Kassian). Kassian looks good and I like that, but I really hope we didn’t get fleeced by our expansion cousins here.

  • “So Pahlsson gives the Canucks a second checking line”

    That is precisely what scares me.

    After the Canucks lost to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, most people in the media harped on the idea that the reason that the Canucks lost in the finals was they weren’t tough enough. But some Canuck fans, a lot of them I really respect (Including the guys at Pass It To Bulis), had a different theory. Vancouver didn’t lose because they weren’t tough enough, they didn’t win because they couldn’t score enough. Now granted, Kesler getting hurt was a big part of that, but you can’t guarantee your stars won’t get hurt or shutdown defensively, what you can do is increase your scoring depth.

    Hodgson’s emergence made the third line a potent offensive threat. He was also the engine of a second unit powerplay that looked far better than the year’s previous. Most of all, Cody allowed Vancouver to shift from two scoring lines, a checking line and a spare parts fourth line, to three scoring lines and a checking line.

    On the surface, this feels like Gillis buying into the “not tough enough hype”. Yes, Hodgson was playing sheltered minutes, but he was proving in sheltered minutes that he had a bright future as an NHLer, AT LEAST as a second line scoring center. Kassian is a very good prospect that has not yet gotten his due chance in the big leagues, but no one can say he’s proven that he will be a future top six forward the way I think Hodgson has this season. As for Gillis “selling high” with Hodgson, yes, maybe he sold high in terms of trading him this season, but I have to imagine there is a pretty good chance one to three years down the road his trade value could’ve been higher, perhaps quite higher.

    You have removed a fairly important piece from a team trying to win the Stanley Cup this season, for a guy who may not be able to crack this season’s roster. Yes, Pahlsson makes the Canucks bottom six better defensively, but a possible bottom six of Hansen/Pahlsson/Raymond and Lapierre/Malhotra/Weisse doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in terms of being able to provide greatly improved depth scoring over last year.

    Lets also not forget that Hodgson by all accounts was a respected and well liked player tagged by many as a future NHL captain, while Kassian has a reputation of being a bit of a headcase and also dishing out wreckless and suspendable head hits. The Canucks dished out a couple big suspension worthy hits that changed momentum in the Chicago and Boston series, and while maybe Kassian can learn to control himself, I’m not excited about bringing back that element to Vancouver.

    Please, talk me off my ledge Cam, I’m willing to listen.

  • Clutchy McNuck

    so rattled rright now, gillis is a plug, ive lost all respect I once had for this man, such an agent move, how well did it work when they moved linden out for messier, dumb move that may cost the canucks there long term future just because people said they werent tough against boston. F*cking joke gillis I hope you realize what you have done

  • Clutchy McNuck

    Writing from Buffalo.
    Don’t expect much from Kassian this season. He seems shell shocked playing against grown men. The Rochester coach didn’t even want him on the team.
    However, once he grows into a man, he may be something special. Won’t help you this season though. Buffalo was desperate for a center.