Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault hinted strongly that Cody Hodgson's performance over the next three games will go a long way towards determining what the NHL team does at the trade deadline.
Vigneault said the team "still hasn't found the elements we're comfortable with" on the fourth line and hasn't "made up our mind yet" on whether Hodgson is the answer as the No. 4 centreman. He said the 21-year-old was recalled from the AHL's Manitoba Moose Monday because he is a natural centre, and hinted that Hodgson's inclusion on the playoff roster could depend on his performance in games against Montreal (Tuesday), St. Louis (Thursday) and Boston (Saturday).
"We have a few games before the trading deadline...there are a lot of things up in the air," Vigneault said. "We still haven't come up with a decision on [fourth-line centre]"
Vigneault praised Hodgson for his progression in five NHL games this year, calling him a dependable two-way player and saying he was "definitely" an option. He also said he was comfortable playing winger Tanner Glass in the middle of the fourth unit, though his preference is for a real centre.
The Canucks have little cap space available to swing a major trade by Monday's deadline, but they could have enough room to fit a low-cost centre for the fourth line. The Canucks have used nine players in the middle of their fourth trio, including several out-of-position wingers.
Hodgson has two points in five games this season, and averaged nine minutes of ice-time per game. Eventually, the Canucks see the former first-round draft pick in an offensive role, where his skill set is best suited.