Should the Sabres buy out Hodgson?

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If you want a study in how far a player can fall in a season, you may not find a better example than Buffalo Sabres forward Cody Hodgson.

There was a time when many believed that the Sabres fleeced the Vancouver Canucks in a trade that also involved Zack Kassian. The tune changed quite a bit recently, as he was a healthy scratch at times during a disastrous 2014-15 season.

Now talks are once again cropping up about a possible buyout for Hodgson, as GM Tim Murray told WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton that the situation is “still a decision.” Meanwhile, Murray told Hodgson to improve his skating and conditioning during the offseason.

This is one of the more explicit moments in which the topic came up, yet it’s not the first. The Buffalo News discussed it at the end of the season. The subject popped up in Elliotte Friedman’s popular “30 Thoughts” article back in February.

This is Buffalo’s chance to make such a decision, as the period takes place in June, and teams see big savings if they buy out a player before they turn 26 (it jumps from one-third of the cost to two-thirds once they hit that age).

The Buffalo News mercifully did the math of a Hodgson buyout, to best illustrate the savings:

Buffalo still owes Hodgson $19 million, so a buyout would cost the club $6.27 million. The organization needs to decide if the former 10th overall pick can reach that potential. The buyout period is in June.

In that same article, the 25-year-old said he’d love to be back in Buffalo, and struggled to explain his issues beyond “bad luck, whatever you want to call it.”

While there are obvious reasons why this could be beneficial, here are a few counterpoints to buying him out:

  • He’s still young: It’s not as if Hodgson hit a wall physically. Sometimes young scorers have one of those “Murphy’s Law” years where everything goes wrong. It seems silly to throw away a possible point-producer on a team that was woeful offensively last season.
  • It would be wasted money: The Sabres aren’t cap-strapped, but they’d be throwing away that $6.27 million for nothing. What if he could redeem himself and then at least be more valuable on the trade market?
  • He could click with all the changes: Perhaps Dan Bylsma would suit him well and give him a fresh voice? Maybe Hodgson finds chemistry with Evander Kane next season?

Buffalo needs to make this decision soon, whether they keep the struggling young forward or not. What should they do?

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P.K. Subban gets a warm tribute during his return to Nashville

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It would have been silly for Nashville Predators fans to boo P.K. Subban during his return to “Smashville.”

Subban didn’t choose to be traded from Montreal to Nashville, and he didn’t elect to be sent from Nashville to the New Jersey Devils, either.

Sports fans aren’t always so rational, though. Really, it makes sense: spending so much money, time, and emotional energy on a game isn’t exactly the most rational thing to do. So there was some concern about how Subban would be received, especially since he’s already booed in an honestly uncomfortably large number of NHL arenas already.

Subban and others can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as while not everyone greeted Subban with open arms in as literal a way as Roman Josi did with their hug on Saturday, the team gave Subban a fantastic welcome back tribute video:

Not only does that video include some of Subban’s great moments during his three seasons with the Predators (that Stanley Cup Final appearance, a Norris Trophy win), it also captures some of the off-the-ice qualities that make Subban so fun and entertaining (and make people sometimes get perplexingly, maybe troublingly mad about him). He got up and decided to sing some Johnny Cash upon arriving in Nashville, was a fantastic charitable presence, and was a lot of fun.

(No Listerine was spilled in the making of the ad, but you can’t have it all.)

Anyway, good on the Predators and their fans for welcoming P.K. back.

As a reminder, Montreal Canadiens fans greeted him with love upon his return, too:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Avs’ rising star Cale Makar shaken by hit from Bruins’ Marchand

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The Colorado Avalanche have done a masterful job, for the most part, when it comes to rolling with injury-related punches to key players such as Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They have to hope that Saturday didn’t send another such haymaker their way.

Rising star defenseman Cale Makar (who just fell under a point per game on Saturday with 28 in 29 contests) was clearly shaken up by a hard hit by Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

It didn’t seem like a heinous hit by Marchand, although there are some who wonder if it was a bit high.

Either way, Makar’s reaction is troubling. You can see him shake his head multiple times following the hit, which gives the impression that he could have suffered a concussion. That doesn’t guarantee that Makar did, but it’s a situation to watch — and one the Avalanche should absolutely be careful about.

The Avalanche ended up beating the Bruins 4-1 on Saturday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Laila Anderson, bone marrow donor attend Blues game

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If it got a “little dusty” at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday, that’s understandable, because the continued story of Laila Anderson meeting Kenton Felmlee, her bone marrow donor, is sure to make most get a case of heightened allergies.

(Is that a leak from the ceiling? /Sobs)

Anyway, Felmlee was Anderson’s guest during Saturday’s Toronto Maple Leafs – St. Louis Blues game, giving the two another chance to bond, and beyond that, for Anderson to thank Felmlee for helping her in her battle with the rare immune disease HLH.

It’s great stuff, even if the actual Blues game isn’t going so great for St. Louis.

This longer clip from their first meeting earlier this week is worth watching, unless you don’t want people to see you openly weeping’n’stuff:

(Personally, I’d say it’s worth it.)

MORE ON LAILA ANDERSON AND THE BLUES:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Miller scored an awesome water bottle breaker in OT

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Over time, you can become jaded as a sports (and specifically hockey) fan.

Stories about abusive coaches, lockouts, fans booing players for simply no longer being on their teams — it can sap some of the joy of the game.

Thankfully, we have highlights, and I can’t think of many simpler joys than someone scoring a goal and absolutely obliterating the goalie’s water bottle in the process. (As long as no one gets too dehydrated in the making of such films.)

Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller did it one better on Saturday: he scored an important goal that way. Miller presented the ultra-rare OTBBGWG (overtime bottle-breaking game-winning goal) as the Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-5 in OT.

Bask in the glory of that goal in the video above this post’s headline. Here’s a fun alternate angle:

By the way, Miller continues to be a deadly offensive weapon for the Canucks. This one-goal, one-assist output extended his current point streak to an impressive eight games (5G, 6A for 11 points). Overall, Miller has 31 points in 30 games during his first season in Vancouver.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.