There’s one move that Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis made this season that rankles fans above the others.
Trading away Cody Hodgson.
Gillis shipped out the team’s former 10th overall pick to the Buffalo Sabres on deadline day for two players in Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani who ultimately made no impact during Vancouver’s first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Canucks offensive struggles without Hodgson compounded the problem, as he was seen a rising star after putting up big numbers in January and December.
As it turns out, it appears that was all part of Gillis showcasing him for a trade.
"There clearly were issues that were ongoing," Gillis said when asked about Hodgson during Tuesday’s season ending press conference. "I spent more time on Cody's issues than every other player combined on our team the last three years.
"We made a determination that he didn't want to be here; we built him into something we could move. There were six young players that I would have traded him for if any of them were ever made available. One was made available at the trade deadline and it was Zack."
There had been rumours essentially all season that Hodgson was unhappy with the ice time he was receiving in Vancouver, where he averaged less than 13 minutes a game behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler on the eventual Presidents’ Trophy winners.
There was even a meeting with coach Alain Vigneault, in which it’s believed the 22-year-old rookie asked for a bigger role on the team.
When he was eventually dealt, however, Hodgson seemed genuinely surprised, even if it had been in the works for a while.
“I was as shocked as anyone,” Hodgson told The Province at the time. “I didn’t see it coming. I really like the city and the fans and the guys are great. But I understand it’s a business and I’m moving on to a new opportunity.”
With the full story never seeing the light of day, Gillis has been taking plenty of heat in the media for moving out a young player with offensive talent for no immediate help when they so badly could have used another goal or two against the Kings.
On Tuesday, it appears he finally decided to let the cat out of the bag, put some of the blame on Hodgson’s side and say that he doesn’t regret making the deal at all.
Thus finally ends what had been a tenuous relationship between those two sides for years.
What will be interesting to watch over the next two or three years is how these young players develop. Kassian, 21, looks like he’s a ways away from contributing any offence at the NHL level, although his AHL contributions were solid for his age.
Hodgson, meanwhile, got a big bump in ice time with the Sabres, but he wasn’t all that productive with just eight points in 20 games during Buffalo’s failed playoff drive.
It's not yet a slam dunk that the deal will come back to haunt Gillis, although with his team very much in a "win now" situation, they could obviously have used some more immediate help from this deal this spring.