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04-06-2012, 04:14 PM
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On the surface, there's enough there for Sabres blog Sabre Noise to take a cursory glance at the production of the two men since the trade and call it - brace yourselves - a fleecing for Buffalo. Kassian's been toothless (both figuratively and literally) since arriving in Vancouver. Until his assist on March 30 bumped his point total to three, his production since the trade matched Cory Schneider's. Meanwhile, Hodgson has a much sexier eight points, all of which have come since being promoted to a line with Thomas Vanek eight games ago.

But the Canucks were well aware that Hodgson was light years ahead of Kassian offensively. At the end of February, Hodgson had 33 points to Kassian's 7. Coaching and management's concern was that, without some serious sheltering, Hodgson's defensive deficiencies would undermine his production and make Vancouver easier to play against in the playoffs.
Since arriving in Buffalo 18 games ago, Hodgson has been on the ice for 15 Buffalo goals. However, he's been on the ice for 18 of the Sabres' 44 goals against. That's 41 per cent of them.

Worse, the Sabres have been outscored 13-7 at even-strength with Hodgson on the ice. He has an even plus-minus on the year - but he was a plus-8 when he left.
Basically, Hodgson remains what he was when he left: a gifted offensive player whose skating and back checking problems would send the blood pressure of a defensive-minded coach like Alain Vigneault through the roof. Like the kids in Edmonton, Hodgson can score, but he can't yet outscore his defensive deficiencies, and he's not ready to star on a contender at this point.

Consider Hodgson's output the past week: with the Sabres' quest to make the playoffs hanging in the balance, Buffalo has lost two of three and nearly all three, surrendering 14 goals. Hodgson has been on the ice for nine of them. You can't tell me that's helpful right now.

All this said, Hodgson is undoubtedly contributing more than Zack Kassian, but let's not forget that Kassian isn't the player that replaced Hodgson on the third line.
Thus, the Hodgson trade isn't quite the fleecing it appears to be - at least not yet. Heading into the playoffs, Mike Gillis was able to do what you do in the Legend of Zelda: turn a weak Link into something that can go up against the most powerful enemies in the land. And that's a win.

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