In a six second Vine yesterday, Cody Hodgson addressed the Buffalo Sabres fan base that he was going to be a Sabre for six more years. Hodgson and the Sabres have been talking for months about a new deal, and finally came to a deal yesterday afternoon. The terms of the deal are six years at $24.5 million, which is an annual base of $4.25 million a year. That shrinks the Sabres salary cap space from $10.5 million to $6.25 million, which still leaves plenty of room for the Sabres to work with.
The big question swirling around Buffalo today is, "was it a good signing?" The talk was that Cody Hodgson was going to be signed to a bridge contract, one very similar to Tyler Ennis' contract he signed with the team last year. But it surprised many when the Sabres announced that it was a 6-year deal for Hodgson. I figured that Cody would re-sign to a 3-year deal and would average around $3.25 million a year. When I heard it was a 6-year deal, I was not surprised. I thought that the reason Cody's re-signing was taking longer than expected was because they were maybe working on a long-term deal. I do not mind the signing because I like Cody Hodgson and I think he can be a great player.
Hodgson was drafted in 2008 by the Vancouver Canucks with the 10th overall pick. He did not see his first NHL action until February of 2011 with Vancouver. Over the year that he played in Vancouver, Hodgson became a fan favorite and hopes were set high on him. At the trade deadline in February of 2012, Hodgson was surprising dealt to Buffalo in a trade that sent one of Buffalo's fan favorite's, Zack Kassian, to Vancouver. Since Hodgson has come to Buffalo, he has scored 18 goals and 24 assists in 68 games. Last season, he put up a majority of those stats scoring 15 goals and adding 19 assisits in all 48 games played. Hodgson also plays as Buffalo, number one center, which he was unable to do in Vancouver since Kesler and Henrik Sedin were the top two. Since Kassian joined the Canucks, Kassian has scored 8 goals and 6 assists in 56 games. Kassian has seen time as the number one right winger, playing with the Sedin twins, but has been in and out of the lineup due to injury and inconsistent play.
It may be too early to tell, but I still believe that Buffalo got the best of the deal between the two teams. Alex Sulzer and Marc-Andre Gragnani were also included in the Hodgson deal, and Sulzer is still playing in Buffalo while Gragnani has bolted to the KHL. People in Vancouver did not want Hodgson to leave Vancouver, but apparently Canucks GM, Mike Gillies, had been asked by Cody for a trade out of the city. Since joining the Sabres, Hodgson has found a new home in Buffalo, and is committed to the team and the city to do some great things.
But is he worth $4.25 million a year? Let's take a look at a deal that is very similar to Hodgson's deal that left many people shaking their heads. When Derek Roy was re-signed by the Sabres in 2007, Derek Roy was 24 years old and was coming off of a 63 point season (21+42). The next three seasons saw Roy produce two 20 goal seasons, one 30 goal season, and three straight 40 assist seasons. He was considered Buffalo's number one center at the time. Then Roy had a lot of tough times dealing with injuries and ineffective play which led the end of his time in Buffalo. With one year left on his 6-year deal, Buffalo traded Derek Roy to Dallas in exchange for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. Buffalo might have come out of that deal a winner too because Ott has become a key leader on a young Sabres team and Roy was traded at the trade deadline to Vancouver. Roy signed in St. Louis to a one-year, $4 million deal this offseason.
Can Cody Hodgson be a better player than Derek Roy? Hodgson had 34 points in 48 games that he played this year. Let's just say the season would have been a full 82 game season, there's a possibility that Hodgson could have scored 30 goals. He could have also added another 20 assists and could have had 40 assists. Now there is no telling if Hodgson could get hurt or hit a slump, but the possibilities are endless. If everything worked out the way they could have, Hodgson would have more points than Roy had in his contract year. So is Hodgson worth the $4.25 million a season? We'll have to wait and see.
Hodgson still has a lot of maturing to do, especially in his defensive play. His decision making in his own offensive zone have been bad at times, giving the puck away and creating opportunities for the other team. He was a -4 this season and a -7 when he came to Buffalo in 2012. Time will allow Hodgson to grow, and in the next six years, I can see Cody making a real improvement in his overall game.
Cody Hodgson is a very young and talented player. At age 23, Hodgson has already experienced what some other 23-year old players in the NHL have not. We all hope that Cody Hodgson becomes a great player, and we all hope that he becomes a franchise player. Time will tell what happens with Cody, but, right now, I believe he is more ready than ever to do what he has to do to lead the Buffalo Sabres to the future.