While the draft is fast approaching, the Buffalo Sabres have more than just prospects to worry about. They have several restricted free agents, and a couple of unrestricted free agents that they need to consider resigning before the free agency period opens up. The next week or so we will take a look at who the Buffalo Sabres will resign, and who they might be targeting when free agency opens up.
First on the list is number 19, Cody Hodgson. Hodgson was originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks with the tenth overall pick in the 2008 draft. This was the same draft class that brought you the entertaining likes of Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty.
Tyler Myers was selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the 12th overall pick, and Tyler Ennis was selected with the 26th overall pick that the Sabres received from the San Jose Sharks. That means the Buffalo Sabres have three first round draft picks on their roster from the 2008 draft. To get Hodgson, the Buffalo Sabres also took on the contract of Alexander Sulzer. The Buffalo Sabres gave up Zach Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
In terms of what Darcy Regier has done wrong/right (in the words of Terry Pegula) – this is definitely a plus in the column to keep Regier at the helm of this organization.
In his first season with the Buffalo Sabres, Hodgson took a while to settle into his new surroundings, and wasn’t overly impressive. In 20 games he was only able to muster three goals. During the lockout season of last year, the start with the Rochester Americans boosted the confidence of the young center, and he almost matched his career high in goals, in fewer games. In 48 games played, he netted 15 goals for the Buffalo Sabres. Only Thomas Vanek scored more goals (20) and with Hodgson and Vanek, only Tyler Ennis was able to crack double digits.
With bonuses Hodgson’s salary last season was less than a million, but had a 1.66 million cap hit. Buffalo could qualify Hodgson with an offer of $826,875 – which is a 5% increase over last year’s salary. With the youth movement on the team – the Buffalo Sabres would probably have to do better than that, despite the fact that Hodgson is only completing his first professional contract. Signing Cody Hodsgon to a 4-6 year deal worth around 1.3 million makes more sense than merely just qualifying.
Prospects aside, Hodgson is one of the four centers on the Buffalo Sabres roster, to include rookie upstart Brian Flynn, fan favorite Steve Ott, and veteran journeyman Kevin Porter. With Ron Rolston as head coach of this team, you know Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter are going to be given a shot at training camp to retain their roster spots. If he is still on the roster (which he should be) Steve Ott will take the other center line spot. Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons will also be looking at cracking the lineup this season. Qualifying Hodgson tells him that he is going to have to contend for a starting job as center for the Buffalo Sabres.
Signing him to a longer contract locks him into place as a top line forward.