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?