There seems to be an overwhelming sense of panic among Canuck fans over the relatively pedestrian pre-season play of youngsters Jordan Schroeder and Cody Hodgson. The expectation seems to be the duo should dominate preseason play, easily earning a spot on the team. Such expectations are fueled by the success of recent draft picks that have made and subsequently provided meaningful impact to their NHL clubs. The most obvious example is Colorado upstart Matt Duchene. Duchene was drafted a year after Hodgson, and already has a very successful rookie season under his belt in which he posted 24 goals and 55 points for the Colorado Avalanche. The fact is, however, Duchene is the exception to the rule. The road oft traveled for players not drafted with the first few picks in the draft is that some development is required before they can be expected to make the NHL.
In the case of Hodgson – having played only a handful of games over the last 14 months after suffering a much publicized back injury – it comes as little surprise that there would be rust, and likely nerves as well. Hodgson came into camp this year still not entirely healthy missing the Canucks prospect tourney because of a lingering back problem. He was cleared to play only days after the preseason started and it should come as no surprise that Hodgson has looked a little out of sorts trying to find his way at the NHL level. Hodgson is best suited to hone his game with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and continue to learn playing professional hockey in a men’s league. He’ll likely play NHL games this season as the Canucks first injury call up.
The Canucks are in a position where they don’t need Hodgson or Schroeder to make the team, either. The Canucks have a plethora of depth at forward, and the emergence of players like Peter Schaefer (back with the Canucks on a pro try out and looking like he’ll make the team) and offseason signing Jeff Tambellini who have had excellent pre seasons has made it an easier decision for GM Mike Gillis to make the right move by sending Schroeder and likely Hodgson down to the AHL to continue their development.
At the end of the day Schroeder and Hodgson remain very good prospects. Nothing about that changes by them not making the NHL out of training camp, but that’s all they are at this point: prospects. It’s best for both the players, and the Canucks for them to get a wealth of playing time in the minors than it would be for them to be in over their heads at the NHL level.
For a team expected to compete for a Stanley Cup it would be a disservice to have them on the team for no other reason than they were expected to push for a spot coming into training camp. The best players will play, and at this time Hodgson and Schroeder don’t provide the best option for the Canucks to win.