Here at The Hockey News, we’re busily working away on our annual Future Watch edition dedicated to prospects and ranking which NHL teams have the best pool to look forward to.
A year ago, Canucks 2008 first-rounder Cody Hodgson graced the cover as the No. 2 ranked prospect (behind Columbus’ KHLer Nikita Filatov). Whenever a player rises to those heights it’s easy to get excited for the future and fantasize about adding such a player to the top line.
But it’s been a bumpy ride for the soon-to-be 20-year-old since. Hodgson notched 123 points in 74 Ontario League games (regular season and playoffs combined) last season, earning the Canadian League’s Player of the Year and a call-up to the American League’s Manitoba Moose for a playoff run and a first taste of the professional life. In 11 games, Hodgson scored twice and added four assists, a performance that left us all anticipating a roster spot in the NHL this season.
But while training in the off-season, Hodgson sustained a back injury, not something you’d normally equate with a junior and definitely not an injury you bounce back easily from.
After missing the early portion of Vancouver’s training camp, Hodgson returned, but was underwhelming and sent back to the Brampton Battalion in favor of keeping Sergei Shirokov on the roster. Hodgson’s back was too wonky to play a full season with so he has been kept off the ice until now. Hodgson is expected to return with Brampton Thursday when they take on the Erie Otters.
The Battalion is unlikely to make the OHL playoffs, so all eyes will be on Hodgson to see if he’s well enough to contribute to another Moose post-season or, much less likely, make a jump up to the NHL.
Last season, few prospects had their stock rise as fast as Hodgson did. This season, his stock plummeted in the eyes of many onlookers. How well can anyone bounce back from a back injury?
Make no mistake, the Canucks will give Hodgson time to heal and he still plays a central role in the pipeline. Just a year ago he was being lauded as a future great two-way center, perhaps taking the mold of former Canuck legend Trevor Linden.
In this year’s Future Watch Top-50 prospects list, which is comprised by polling scouts from across the land, Hodgson doesn’t hang onto his No. 2 status, but he still has a legitimate future and remains in the top 5.
As the famous line in Monty Python’s Holy Grail goes: “I’m not dead yet.”
This article also appeared in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.
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