The Pen has finally been put to paper and fans of Cody Hodgson and the Buffalo Sabres can breathe a sigh of relief as the two sides have finally agreed on a new contract. Cody Hodgson and the Sabres agreed on a 6 year contract worth roughly $25.5 million with a cap hit of around $4.25 million a year. This was almost a perfect deal for the Sabres going forward, the only risky part is the length of the deal, 6 years is a long time and for an injury prone Hodgson anything can happen. So what does the Hodgson signing mean going forward for the Sabres?
First of all, and perhaps most importantly, the 6 year deal means the Buffalo Sabres want Cody Hodgson to be their future. You don’t sign a fairly un-proven player for 6 years without the chance to make him the future. I was quite surprised by the 6 year deal, I thought it would be more around 4 years, but the extra two-years helped keep the cap hit down and that could be huge in the future.
Back to Hodgson being the future of the Buffalo Sabres. The 6 year deal shows Hodgson’s willingness to stick with the Sabres through the rebuild and continue to lead the team during and after the rebuild. He said he wanted to stay in Buffalo long-term and he got his wish, whether you like it or not Darcy Regier is showing faith in Hodgson wanting him to be the future of the club. With the 6 year deal, it’s likely certain a letter could be coming his way as well. There’s been a lot of debate surrounding the captaincy of the Sabres and the front-runners were thought to be Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek, but the future of both players is unknown. Vanek has hinted at leaving and there’s no guarantee Ott sticks around long-term and the Sabres are in need of a captain who will stick with the club through the rebuild. Hodgson has now signed long-term, signaling that he wants to be the future and this gives the team a chance to name a captain who will lead the team into the future.
This is the perfect opportunity for the Sabres to name a young captain who has a little experience and will develop along with the rest of the Sabres. Sure his defence needs a little improvement, but he’s only 23 and has tons of time (6 years to be exact), to prove his worth and fix his defence. While this isn’t his first NHL training camp (2011), this will be the first training camp he enters with the confidence of his team and coaches. Knowing where you stand and what your team expects of you can make all the difference, expect to see a confident and motived Cody Hodgson when they get on the ice tomorrow. The Sabres want him to be the first-line centre of the future and are giving him 6 years to live up to that. They believe he has a bright future.
Don’t be surprised if Hodgson is named the next Buffalo Sabres captain ahead of this season, it’s evident they want him around long-term and to be a leader on this team. While Hodgson has been an inconsistent player who hasn’t reached his full potential yet, this deal gives him the opportunity to mature as a player and really find his game. He’s getting better every season and with a full training camp, confidence and a role on the first line, this could be a big year for the young Hodgson.
Perhaps the best part about this deal, besides Hodgson agreeing to stay in Buffalo long-term, is the amount. $4.25 million for a player like Hodgson isn’t a lot of money, especially when the cap will be going back up. Let’s think positive here; If Hodgson develops his game in the next two seasons and becomes a super star first-line centre who leads the Sabres in scoring, the Sabres are only paying him $4.25 million a year. The Sabres still have almost $6 million in cap space to sign other solid young players to support Hodgson. On the flip side; even if Hodgson doesn’t get much better, doesn’t learn defence and is surpassed by Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons/Johan Larsson, because he’s only making $4.25 a year that isn’t horrible money for a solid third-line centre. Look around the League. Right now Nazem Kadri is playing on the third line and will only demand more money, Tyler Bozak- nothing more than a glorified third-line centre is making $4.2M a year. The Sabres got a solid deal with Hodgson and in the end the amount of money they paid will only help the team.
The Buffalo Sabres have decided to move forward with Cody Hodgson leading the rebuild and leading the young Sabres into a new era. The 6 year deal means Cody Hodgson will be apart of the Sabres future for a long while. He’ll have an opportunity to grow as a player and the onus is now on him to become a better player and play like a true first-line centre. I’ve watched Hodgson since his days with the Brampton Battalion and even practiced with him (yes I’ve stopped one of his shots), the kid has tremendous hockey sense and skill. He’s had a rough go with injuries and gotten a bad reputation, but this is like a new start for the young centre. Look for Hodgson to take advantage of the leap of faith the Sabres have taken on him.