Might as well join the onslaught of Sabres bloggers!
The gents at WGR raised a fine point last month about moving forward with Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson. They raised a very valid point that continuing with both simply wouldn't be possible. The Sabres need at least one better centericeman than either of them are or can become (some may say they need two). This would leave EITHER CoHo OR Ennis to fill the number two slot.
Let's break this down very quickly and easily. Hodgson was brought in to occupy the middle of Vanek and Pomminville. No need to discuss what happens here. But even when the two of them left, he was still looked at as "the guy" even coming into this past season. It did not take too long, however, for CoHo to be replaced by the center-convert, Tyler Ennis. I'll let it be known here that I am an unabashed Tyler Ennis fan. The kid has great skill, he listens, he has passion, and he's willing to learn. I have no doubt that his game will continue to improve. Call it a gut feeling, but I truly believe this kid has the ability to become a very solid second line center. And stop doubting his size. We've all watched Ennis put guys on their back in the same manner as Pavel Datsyuk has in his career (please note that I'm comparing their hitting, not skill. I don't need any outraged hand waving).
But where does this leave ol' Mr. Hodgson. This is a FACT: Cody Hodgson couldn't even hold down a top two center position on THE WORST team in the league (he would eventually be displaced by Girgensons too). I hope it isn't too bold to say, but Cody Hodgson, as a center, is a borderline top line minor league center and maybe a third on a run and gun NHL team. He simply doesn't have an imposing physical game, capable two way play, or ability to carry the play the way an NHL center needs to have. Granted, Ennis hasn't proven his two way ability so well yet either but, again, I think he can overcome this.
I was beginning to feel upset...I was beginning to think that Darcy effed us again. Oh how I wished Ennis' and Hodgson's contracts could be swapped. Then something brilliant happened...some genius put Hodgson on the wing. I don't know who made this decision, but this may prove to be brilliant. This person may later be hospitalized due to excessive high fiving.
The one thing Hodgson has surely proven is that he has great offensive skill. He knows how to score and he knows how to set people up. Something about him changes when he's in the offensive zone. He looks comfortable and locked in. This completely opposite of how he looks on defense (clueless, slightly terrified). Putting him on the wing lessens his need to try and carry the play and, more importantly, be responsible on defense. He can be more focused on generating offense which he is good at.
I think it's a great thing that he didn't Tebow and refuse to play anything but center. If he sticks with this, he might become a fantastic winger to a good or great center. I firmly believe that he wouldn't have lasted in Buffalo in the middle even if they don't resign Ennis after his bridge deal concludes.
CoHo hasn't shown that he is an NHL center. However, putting him on the wing may turn out to be a brilliant move.