Well this saga is over

Well, we finally got our “blockbuster” as Cody Hodgson is being sent to Buffalo in exchange for Zack Kassian who is on his way to Vancouver. Also flipping squads are Marc-Andre Gragnani and Alexander Sulzer. Interestingly, it may Gragnani that tips this trade in favor of Vancouver.

The Sami Pahlsson trade to Vancouver now makes a hell of a lot more sense for Vancouver as they seem a lot less backlogged down the middle with the departure of Hodgson. You free up a lot more minutes for Pahlsson by moving Hodgson and reap a lot of the benefits I laid out in the corresponding post – namely, they’re a much more tough to play against, two-way team.

By acquiring Kassian, the Canucks shore up an immediate need that is constantly harped on when we break down their roster. It’s tempting to say that they’re just not tough enough and it will catch up with them over the course of a playoff series, much like it did against Boston in the Cup Finals last season. In many ways the Canucks have picked up their own Milan Lucic in Zack Kassian as that is the immediate comparison I draw in my mind between Kassian and any active player in the NHL. He brings some serious tenacity to their wing, makes them even harder to play against and has plenty of upside going forward from an offensive perspective. I’m a very big fan.

The player I really like in all of this trading is Gragnani who emerged as a very solid offensive defenseman during Buffalo’s playoff series against Philadelphia. Had the Sabres not gone out and signed Christian Ehrhoff – how’d that work out? – Gragnani would have been their go-to power play quarterback and puck moving defenseman. I think the Canucks got a real steal in MAG.

Going back to Buffalo is Cody Hodgson. He won’t be sticking around in Vancouver after finally appearing to have it figured out. Luckily for Hodgson, he may finally have an opportunity to fully live up to his offensive potential as he wasn’t getting anything more than third line minutes in Vancouver and that wasn’t going to change any time soon. Rather, in Buffalo he’ll likely be put in the top two lines right away and have a chance to play with the likes of Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy. If you think you can get a hold of Cody Hodgson in your fantasy leagues, do it. He could be poised to REALLY break out as the talent and minutes around him are poised to grow.

In Sulzer, Buffalo acquires your run of the mill depth defenseman – a bigger stay at home guy who could slide into the six or seven spot – though he’ll have to edge out Buffalo’s defensive prospects T.J. Brennan and Brayden McNabb to really earn his spot. Buffalo is putting a lot of stock in Hodgson working out with this trade because as far as Sulzer goes, you’re not getting much of anything.

That’s my take on the deal at least. Who do you gang think won the deal? Comment, #BShelf, Facebook.

Don’t forget to check out theScore’s trade tracker here and the Backhand Shelf livestream here.

Comments (12)

  1. Kassian is not Lucic. Not even close nor does he have the full potential to be like Lucic. Gragnani had his chance with the Sabres multiple times and blew it. He’s always good for that turnover right in front of your goalie. He’s sloppy with the puck and that led him in Ruff’s doghouse. Sabres win on this trade…they are actually a better team now after the departure of Gaustad and will be in the future.

  2. So you admit to not watching the Sabres at all this year right?

    “Gragnani who emerged as a very solid offensive defenseman during Buffalo’s playoff series against Philadelphia.”

    And then regressed to being a turnover machine and a defensive liability who couldn’t move the puck or score.

    “Had the Sabres not gone out and signed Christian Ehrhoff – how’d that work out?”

    Leads the defense in points, played better defense than expected, and despite having a down year on team where every offensive player is having a down year will end up right around his career averages.

    “Gragnani would have been their go-to power play quarterback and puck moving defenseman.”

    He was their go-to power play quarterback and failed miserably at it. So much that he was sent to the pressbox and couldn’t beat out Mike Weber for minutes. Has 1 goal.

    “Rather, in Buffalo he’ll likely be put in the top two lines right away and have a chance to play with the likes of Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy.”

    Derek Roy is a center. The name you were probably looking for was Jason Pominville. You know the guy who was an all-star? And is currently 15th in the league in points?

    • Wow. Touchy?

      The Sabres just gave up on a 24 year old, very talented defenceman, why? Because he gives up the puck? He has 59 career games under his belt. He needs to learn and last I checked, the Sabres aren’t exactly playing for now.

      He has one goal. He also has 12 points. He’s a +10.

      Let’s revisit that debate in a year.

      Yes Derek Roy is a center. Does that mean they won’t play together (ie. on the power play)? A coach is allowed to put whoever he wants on a line. Just like Pominville, a winger, often plays the point.

      • I really have no idea how Grags was a +10. He was very solid in the playoffs this past season which led to him having higher expectations than he probably should have. However, he was playing very poorly, making poor decisions (check Giroux’s OT winner vs the Sabres) and easily coughing the puck up to the opposing forecheck. With our defensive prospect depth, Grags will not be missed. Losing Kassian’s size is unfortunate, but for whatever reason, he was not playing very physically in the NHL, maybe he will learn to better use his size in Vancouver, but he wasn’t here. I hope it works out for him.at draft and was upset when he was chosen ahead of us (although we picked Myers)

  3. a kid that is plus 10 on a losing team is a solid move , good young puck mover, i watched kassian play with the spitfires, and holy fuck this guy is ridiculous, size,speed,grit,toughness,great shot, the kid has it all, he will look insane playing with the sedins twins in a couple of years. hodgson is a good pick up for buffalo as well, and the sabres still have mark foligno as a future power forward so it was a win win for both teams

    • Gragnani was a +10 because Miller has had a decent season, although his numbers aren’t great. Miller’s poor numbers are a reflection of the play in front of him…which definitely included Grags. And Grags can play some offense, no doubt! Ruff played him on wing for a few games due to injury. But he is a one dimensional player. And for every goal he scores, he’ll be responsible for 3 scored against.

  4. Thank you, Backhand Shelf, for seeing the actual benefits for the Canucks in this trade. It seems like the majority of Canuck fans here in BC are completely blind to the fact that this is a great move by Gillis.

    • Buffalo fleeced Nashville and to a lesser degree, Vancouver. Team just needs better focus and leadership…maybe a coaching change will do that.

      • I would argue that Buffalo could use a coaching change and management shuffle, but when you have a guy with such deep ties to the team (Ruff) coaching, it’s not easy to say “hit the road,” even if it is the right thing to do.

  5. There is one thing that isn’t clear:
    Mayhap Cody wasn’t happy here.
    The bottomline for all we know:
    He’s better off in Buffalo.

    One suspects he’ll be playing more:
    On a line two not three or four.
    And closer to his Mom and Dad:
    Another reason to be glad.

    Some Sabres’ fans sure like the deal
    Their happiness they can’t conceal
    They think CoHo to be really
    Canucks’ second Mister Neely

    My good advice is wait and see
    How bad this trade turns out to be.

    The Olde Coot

  6. The comparison between Kassian and Lucic is bang on for anyone who watched this kid play with the Windsor Spitfires. Vancouver just absolutely shored up its need for an aggressive and talented power forward. Time will utlimately tell but if Kassian can play with the same heart and skill in Vancouver that he did in Windsor then the Canucks will definetly be the better team for it. Did Buffalo benefit from this trade, absolutely, as this trade was a pure hockey decision. Hodgson will shine in Buffalo and his impact will be immediate but I don’t feel that this was as lopsided as people seem to think. MAG is young with a lot of upside potential and under the tutelage of Vancouver’s strong defensive core he will begin to come into his own. I think the balance tips in Vancouver’s favor on this one.

    • Problem is that Kassian is not aggressive. He may have some untapped talent, but he lacks the heart to be aggressive, and he’s only 22. At 22, wouldn’t you show some aggression? He couldn’t beat out Buffalo’s AHL journeyman Matt Ellis for a roster spot. Only reason he was called up was due to the Sabres injury woes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *