Cody Hodgson

So…did Hodgson ask to be traded?


It hasn’t been easy for Cody Hodgson since being drafted by Vancouver in 2008. A highly decorated junior, Hodgson was hampered by injuries after being picked 10th overall and wasn’t able to jump right into the NHL like many in his draft class. Meanwhile, the pressure built in a rabid market and the talk of a rift between player and club intensified.

Today Hodgson was traded to Buffalo, and even though the rift talk subsided this season as he proved he belonged in the NHL, it’s no surprise there are rumblings he asked to be moved.

Rumblings that general manager Mike Gillis didn’t exactly quash when asked by reporters.

Via The Province:

Hodgson’s camp and head coach have not always seen eye to eye. Because of that Gillis was asked if Hodgson’s crew asked for a trade.

“That’s an internal thing I’m not going to comment about,” he said.

It was pointed out to Gillis that his non-answer will lead to rampant speculation that Hodgson did in fact ask for a trade.

“Well, there will be speculation that he did, then,” Gillis said. “Things that happen behind closed doors in our offices are not for public consumption.

“I’m not going to discuss it.”

Well, that wasn’t evasive at all.

Two weeks ago, Province columnist Tony Gallagher suggested that Hodgson’s lack of ice time could lead to trouble:

At some point, somebody is going to have to acknowledge there is something coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t like about this kid. Maybe he doesn’t like his smile or the deodorant he uses or something. Maybe it goes back to that long-distance exchange the coach had with Hodgson, after he was dispatched from his first Canucks camp. Who knows? But when your team is struggling to score the way this team is these days, you would think finding a way to get him out there more would be a good idea.

When Hodgson was put out with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen in the third period, they produced the winning goal. What’s clear is this can’t go on. At some point the kid is going to get fed up and asked to be traded. This doesn’t mean the team has to grant that request, but it’s not usually a good situation when you have a player who doesn’t want to be there.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Hodgson asked to be traded. Besides, it’s not like he was blown out the door for peanuts. Zack Kassian may be raw, but he’s exactly the type of player the Canucks have been looking for, save for a few years experience.

“We felt we needed better balance on our team,” Gillis said. “We needed some size and we needed some toughness.”

Yet the Canucks are arguably a weaker team today than they were with Hodgson in the lineup, as even Gillis admits that Kassian’s “still got a ways to go at the NHL level.” And for a Cup contender, making a deadline move that weakens the team with an eye towards the future is rare.

Kyle Connor expected to be healthy scratch for Jets

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Jets rookie Kyle Connor played just 10:09 in Sunday’s outdoor loss to the Oilers, and tonight in Dallas it appears he’ll be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career.

Connor was not among the 12 Winnipeg forwards taking line rushes this morning. The 19-year-old has just one assist in his first five games as a Jet. He’s a minus-5 and has also struggled in terms of possession, as evidenced by his 38 percent Corsi.

The 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Connor spent one year at the University of Michigan before leaving school to turn pro. He’s eligible to be sent to the AHL this season, something the Jets are no doubt considering.

Winnipeg has a number of potential call-ups on its farm club, including Marko Dano, Quinton Howden, Andrew Copp, Nicolas Petan, and Jack Roslovic.

Babcock’s had his fill of goalie questions, thanks

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Head coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on prior to the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Mike Babcock is aware Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good this season.

He’s also aware that Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good the last few seasons.

Thing is, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

“It’s five games in, isn’t it?” Babcock replied on Tuesday, when asked about the Leafs’ shaky netminding so far, specifically the play of Frederik Andersen. “Let’s just take a deep breath here.”

And here’s a transcript of what followed (courtesy Sportsnet)!

Reporter: The guy on Saturday night said the Leafs goaltending has been lousy this year.

Babcock: Who did?

Reporter: The guy on Saturday night — Don Cherry.

Babcock: Oh, OK. Well now that I know where I’m getting my facts from, here we go. Come on. Let’s move on. What’s next here? Holy [expletive].

Reporter: No, but seriously, it’s been an issue for this market probably since Ed Belfour left, and I’m wondering if there’s anything to that.

Babcock: But I’m not dealing with that. This is what I would tell you. We think we have a really good goaltender. At the World Cup I had three outstanding goaltenders, and they all talked about how much time it usually takes to get ready.

Our guy didn’t have that opportunity because of his injury. We’re real comfortable with him. Do we think he’s played as good as he’s capable of playing? No. Do we think he’s going to? Yes.

Babcock’s right to suggest it’s too early to start grading Andersen. First, there’s the adjustment from playing behind a good team in a small market (Anaheim) to playing behind a “growing team” in a massive, pressure-packed market like Toronto.

There’s also the additional pressure that came with Andersen’s acquisition price (a first- and second-round pick) and his subsequent contract extension (five years, $25 million).

The injury suffered playing for Denmark in Olympic qualifying was definitely a setback, as there’s no doubt some games for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey would’ve better prepared Andersen for the season.

Still, it’s hard to look at his numbers — 1-0-3, .879 save percentage, 3.63 GAA — and not be at least a little concerned.

Unless you’re Mike Babcock, that is.

Related: The list of struggling netminders is a long one, as it’s been goals galore to start the year

Elliott gets the start in return to St. Louis

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Brian Elliott will be in Calgary’s crease against his old team tonight in St. Louis.

Even though Elliott played last night in Chicago, it was an easy decision for Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. Elliott had easily his best game of the season against the Blackhawks, stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory. The 31-year-old turned away all seven Chicago shooters in the breakaway competition, helping the Flames to just their second win of the young season.

“I definitely wanted that one,” Elliott told reporters afterwards. “We haven’t been playing like we wanted to and the guys came out and had a heck of an effort.”

Elliott started 164 games for the Blues during his five years in St. Louis. Last season, he backstopped them to their first conference final since 2001. He was then traded to Calgary in June, paving the way for Jake Allen to become the full-time starter in St. Louis.

Related: The list of struggling goalies is a long one

Crosby on track to make season debut tonight

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 30: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face-off against the 
New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, Sidney Crosby participated in a full-contact practice.

Today, it appears he’ll make his season debut when the Penguins host the Panthers tonight in Pittsburgh.

“He had a strong practice this morning,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the club. “Everything is pointing in the right direction. If he’s comfortable, he could play.”

Crosby has missed just six games due to the concussion he sustained during practice on Oct. 7. Given his history with concussions, if he plays tonight, it has to be considered a best-case scenario. Certainly, there had been fear he could be out much longer.

For the record, Crosby told reporters he’ll be a game-time decision.