EDIT: Poking around Twitter tonight and I found this. Am I good or what?
I think most people will agree that this is a fantastic trade for Vancouver. They get an established scorer in David Booth and get rid of Mikael Samuelsson, whose value is severely diminished with a healthy Sami Salo, and Marco Sturm, who just wan’t a very good signing in the first place. The trade also means Mike Gillis gets rid of two contracts he had little intention of extending early.
Booth is another solid two-way utility player Gillis likes. He and Chris Higgins will line up along side Ryan Kesler ASAP… which begs the question: where does Cody Hodgson go from here?
Having Booth with Kesler changes the complexion of the second line. With bigger players in Higgins and Booth (as opposed to Mason Raymond and Samuelsson, or even Hodgson), the Canucks can employ a second line that is fast and really tough to play against in the corners. More dump and chase, less up-and-down with high-and-wide shots from Samuelsson or Raymond losing the puck in his skates.
Booth has three more years at $4.25 million per year, but Vancouver’s got deep pockets. They are, after all, going to pay Steven Reinprecht $2 million to play in the AHL. For Florida, they take on two expiring contracts that help them reach the floor and continue their re-build. Now Sturm and Samuelsson will jostle with Florida’s plethora of wingers for some coveted ice time with Stephen Weiss.
Well, at least there’s no income tax in Florida.
For Hodgson, this may mean a one-way ticket to Chicago. With Gillis declaring that Hodgson will be bumped from the second line, and with Malhotra and Lapierre down the middle, you have to wonder (again) where Hodgson fits in the future. Could the Canucks turn him into a full-time winger, as the Bruins seem to be doing with Tyler Seguin with Krejci and Bergeron down the middle?
Hodgson was benched earlier today against Minnesota, and I didn’t think he was particularly bad, but he still double clutches way too much. He’s hesitating a little to make plays, often passing up a good shooting opportunity to set up a streaking Kesler. It’s one thing to show vets some respect but goodness, you have to assert yourself at some point. It’s no secret Alain Vigneault has played him sparingly, if erratically, since Hodgon’s arrival and doesn’t mince words about his rookies.
Hodgson’s unfortunately stuck on a team that doesn’t need any more centres and isn’t in a rush to develop rookies. That’s fine, but it causes some tension when player and team don’t see eye to eye when it comes to progress. Cory Schneider wasn’t too happy about spending another year in the AHL and Nazem Kadri did the same earlier this week.
I can’t see Hodgson being traded unless Gillis sees a bona fide return. He’s under no pressure to trade Hodgson and this big acquisition might be Gillis’ statement of the year. He said before that Mats Sundin was his big deadline acquisition, and he could use the same reasoning for Booth here.
I think the bigger picture is how well Hodgson does next year, the final year of his entry level contract. He becomes an RFA the season after Mason Raymond and Cory Schneider, so Gillis may have to get creative with the cap once again.
There are factors working against the Canucks re-signing Hodgson. Vancouver has the leverage since Hodgson is restricted, but that doesn’t mean he has to sign, nor does it mean there won’t be the threat of offer sheets. With Henrik, Kesler, Malhotra, and possibly Lapierre down the middle, there won’t be a lot of opportunity for Hodgson to play his natural position.
The Canucks have been wonderful at developing talent the past couple of years, with Kesler, Edler, the Sedins, Burrows, Bieksa, Schneider, Raymond, and Hansen. One of the biggest criticisms about the Burke/Nonis regime was that they left the cupboard bare, only to have Gillis clean up the pieces and re-stock the pipeline.
Hodgson was Gillis’ prized pick, the well-spoken, two-way centre with “good character” that was meant to reflect the attitudes of the new regime that emphasized care and development. Well, perhaps the Canucks’ quick transition from perennial first round flame out to Western Conference finalist have increased the pressure to win now, but it looks like there’s a good possibility that Gillis’ first ever pick as general manager may not pan out for Vancouver.