We’re roughly 53 days away from the start of the Buffalo Sabres regular season and it’s been a very quiet offseason in Buffalo. Not only have the Sabres kept Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, they have yet to re-sign number one centre and RFA Cody Hodgson. So what’s the hold up with getting Hodgson signed? Cody Hodgson wants number one centre money and he’s not worth it yet.
The biggest challenge for Darcy Regier is to gauge just how much Cody Hodgson is worth. For the Sabres he’s a first-line centre, a leader and a top-line scorer. But on other teams with more established centres, Hodgson would fill a 2nd or 3rd line centre spot like he did in Vancouver. There aren’t many questions about Hodgson’s offencive game, the questions with Hodgson surround his defencive game. Through his first two season’s in Buffalo he’s been a defencive liability on the ice, even Lindy Ruff who preached defence couldn’t solve the problem.
Where does that leave Cody Hodgson? For at least the next 2-3 season’s he will be the Sabres number one centre, and if he has the right linemates he could be one of the top scorers in the league. But it wont be long before Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons are ready for bigger roles. Can Hodgson compete with the younger talent coming up in the Sabres organization?
That brings us to today, right now Hodgson is the Sabres best shot at a number one centre, he adds another scoring threat for the
offence and he has the potential to be a solid number one centre on most NHL teams, but he’s only 23. At 23 he’s played just 2 “full” NHL season’s and the lockout-shortened season was his first full season in blue and gold. The track record for Hodgson isn’t very convincing; he’s scored just 35 goals through his time in the NHL, but the good news is he has yet to hit the prime of his career and his numbers are on the rise.
Darcy Regier needs to handle Hodgson, like the Canadiens handled PK Subban. Hodgson has yet to prove his worth in the NHL and still has a lot to work on. He could turn into a franchise player and be worth close to $10 million in a few seasons, but not right now. Regier should offer Hodgson a two-year deal worth roughly $5 million, giving the Sabres a cap hit of $2.5 million for two season’s while they wait to see how Hodgson develops. The two year deal will keep Hodgson in blue and gold and give him a chance to prove that he is worth that big contract he’s looking for. There’s no need for Regier to panic and offer Hodgson a deal he may regret in the near future, play it smart, make Hodgson work for his money. He hasn’t shown anything spectacular as of yet, so why throw big money at him?
The next two season’s for the Sabres are going to be a rebuilding process. The younger players are going to get a chance to develop and some of the veterans will be given an opportunity to prove they fit into the future of the Sabres. Sign Hodgson for $5 million through the rebuild and see how well he meshes and leads the younger players. Regier can use the money he saved on signing Hodgson long-term to bring in other young prospects who will help take the team to next level.
If the Sabres and Regier play their cards right with Hodgson they could have a franchise player and future captain. But Hodgson is in no way ready for any of those things yet, he needs another couple season’s to prove his worth. If he proves he’s worth the money, then by all means lock him up, but for now make Cody Hodgson play for his money. A two-year deal worth $5 million should be enough to get Hodgson to work for his next big pay day in Buffalo.