Monday, February 27, 2012

Hodgson dealt for Kassian, Gragnani

The trade deadline has come and gone and the Vancouver Canucks were one of the major players. Early in the day, they acquired Sami Pahlsson from the Columbus Blue Jackets for prospect Taylor Ellington, and two 4th round draft picks. The largest deal and most interesting swap of the day occurred right at the deadline as the Canucks sent Cody Hodgson and defender Alex Sulzer to the Buffalo Sabres for Zach Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.

In Hodgson, the Canucks forfeit a Calder trophy candidate and potential scoring center with strong two-way play and leadership ability. While Sulzer is a nice depth defender, Hodgson is obviously the main piece of this deal.
Let's break down three positives and negatives of these deals.

The Negatives
Many Canucks’ fans are disappointed at this deal, and certainly there are some negatives.

1) Hodgson was the unofficial quarterback of the Canucks’ 2nd power play unit. His absence will be missed from an offensive standpoint

2) Hodgson scored some big goals for this team, especially against the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings at key point this year.

3) The Canucks have Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler under contract, but lose a potential future captain and all-star center in Hodgson, as well as their youngest and most dynamic offensive threat.

The Positives
In return, there are some positives to this deal that aren’t apparent yet, but should materialize over the course of this year and beyond.

1) Gragnani is an upgrade over Sulzer, and can fill in while Ballard is out. Gragnani had a tremendous post-season for Buffalo a year ago. He’s an offensive threat, but no slouch at 6’2”. A fresh start should allay fears of his season in Buffalo. He may not be the answer Canucks’ fans were hoping for on the blue line, but he contrasts Alberts and Rome nicely and provides some much needed depth should Ballard or Salo be unavailable in the playoffs.

2) The acquisition of Kassian provides skill and size up front. His toughness is a missing component that Canucks’ fans and management wanted. He’s a year younger than Hodgson, but his AHL numbers are better than Hodgson’s were last year. Big, fast, and mean, the Canucks may have a winner.

3) Sami Pahlsson brings an element to the Canucks that many experts are overlooking. Pahlsson isn’t a replacement for Hodgson in the sense most expect. Pahlsson is a reliable two-way player who excelled in shutdown roles in Anaheim and elsewhere throughout his career. Pahlsson is not going to step onto the number two powerplay unit, but, he will free up Ryan Kesler to be an offensive center. Pahlsson can line up with Higgins and Hansen and take on the task of shutting down opposing teams top lines, thus freeing Kesler to take on a more offensive role.

All in all, a successful day for the Vancouver Canucks. While they lose Cody Hodgson’s potential as a solid center iceman, Vancouver has Sedin and Kesler there already. For this year, a defensive center like Pahlsson frees Kesler to be a scorer. Last season, this job belonged to Malhotra before he was hurt, and Kesler’s shift to a more defensive role was a huge story line throughout the post-season.

Gragnani adds depth to the defense, and Kassian adds size and toughness to the Canucks, with top-6 potential.

Kassian could play 4th line minutes, but play the front of the net on the power play and even join the Sedin twins for an occasional shift.

This trade looks good for this year’s team, but because Gragnani is 24 and Kassian is 21 - the future looks good too.

1 comment:

  1. Also the fresh legs element will be in play come a long playoff drive as well.