Nolan exasperated, but says Hodgson’s not a lost cause

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Pretty dire times in Buffalo for Cody Hodgson.

The Sabres’ highest-paid forward — currently in the second of a six-year, $25.5 million deal — is struggling through a nightmarish campaign in which he has more healthy scratches (three) than goals (two).

And to make things worse, Buffalo doesn’t really know what the problem is or, how to fix it.

“I don’t believe anybody’s a lost cause,” head coach Ted Nolan said, per the Buffalo News. “It’s just not working, for whatever reason.

“When you go through that you’ve got to do your own soul searching and find out what makes you work and fit in. … You’ve got to find a way yourself. That’s what I told our team. There aren’t too many times people are going to come in and save you. You’ve got to find your own solutions.”

Though the season’s been a total mess, things have really gotten bad for Hodgson over the last 10 days. He’s been a healthy scratch twice, including for a Jan. 30 date in Vancouver — the same Canucks team that traded him to Buffalo at the 2012 trade deadline.

Hodgson showed a small uptick after getting parked against Vancouver — notching an assist versus Montreal in his first game following the scratch —  but things quickly went downhill again. He played just 7:52 in Saturday’s win over Dallas, then watched on Sunday as the Sabres lost to the Isles.

Given how dramatically things have fallen off, it’s not surprising to hear recent rumblings of Hodgson buyout talk. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has brought up the idea on separate occasions and owner Terry Pegula has shown a willingness to wipe out bad contracts in the past, using buyouts on both Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino (granted, both those deals were amnestied; any future buyouts would be of the regular variety and cost Buffalo’s cap.)

A Hodgson buyout would be drastic, but that’s possibly what this situation needs.

“There’s a lot of nights you lie awake wondering what could be said,” Nolan said. “Are you saying the right things? Not enough? Not enough ice time? Not with the right people?

“All those types of things you go through. But when push comes to shove, what it really boils down to, I believe, is you’ve got to find that inner strength and fight your way through it.”