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Trade Deadline Day 2012 Wrap-Up – Hodgson, Sulzer, & A 1st


Welcome to Buffalo, new top 6 center! Photo credit: Pass It To Bulis/Vancouver Sun

Shortly after the actual trade deadline had passed, the Buffalo Sabres announced three moves. First, Paul Gaustad and a 4th round pick were sent to Nashville for the Preds’ 1st round pick. Second, in arguably the deal of the day (really), Zack Kassian and Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson swapped teams in a trade between the class of 1970. Lastly, not quite done, Marc-Andre Gragnani went to Vancouver for fellow defenseman Alexander Sulzer.

First, from the Buffalo Sabres’ media advisory:

Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier today announced that the Sabres have acquired center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Hodgson (2/18/1990, 6’0”, 185 lbs.) had 33 points (16+17) and a plus-8 rating in 63 games with the Canucks this season. His 16 goals tie for second-most among NHL rookies this season, and his 33 points rank him fifth among all rookies. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Hodgson was selected by Vancouver in the first round (10th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Sulzer (5/30/1984, 6’1”, 204 lbs.) has played in 12 games for the Canucks this season, tallying one assist, two penalty minutes and a plus-six rating. In 74 career games played with the Canucks, Panthers and Predators, Sulzer has totaled eight points (1+7) and 20 penalty minutes. The Kaufbeuren, Germany native was drafted in the third round (92nd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators.

The Sabres also announced that they have acquired a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft from the Nashville Predators in exchange for center Paul Gaustad and Buffalo’s fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft.

The first trade that went down was the Goose/4th rounder to NSH for Preds’ 1st rounder. It came out in the morning that the Sabres were looking for a 1st rounder for their faceoff man, the price greeted mostly by laughing detractors. In the end, the Sabres got their pick from the Nashville Predators after sweetening the deal with a 4th rounder of their own.

Gaustad will shore up the Preds’ depth, eating up penalty killing minutes and taking a lot of faceoffs. His 12 goals-per-season average doesn’t translate well to the playoffs, where he has 0 markers to his name. He likely wasn’t acquired for his scoring, as Nashville GM David Poile remarked that Gaustad and Hal Gill were picked up to shut down the likes of Ryan Kesler. Meanwhile, the Preds’ 1st rounder in the upcoming draft will likely be a bottom-10 pick for the Sabres. In what is considered a weaker draft, the Sabres could always package this incoming pick with a player at the draft for a trade to fill a need. Like James O’Brien of Cycle Like The Sedins told me, the 4th rounder that went with Gaustad is “like peanut butter around dog food medicine.”

The second trade that went down was, as slow a news day as this year’s trade deadline was, the exchange of the day. Even the most cynical of fans who were shocked by the departure of Zack Kassian were pleasantly surprised to see that quality begat quality when Cody Hodgson was announced as the returning player. In what snarky fans could construe as a maneuver to shut Brian Burke, who laid into Regier’s shrewd trade practices earlier in the season, up, both the Sabres and Canucks win this trade.

Fans wanted ZacK Kassian to destroy everything in his path. He was built up to be Cain Marko on skates, but spent the majority of his time in Rochester and Buffalo playing nothing like the sort. The former first round pick (13th overall, 2009) focused on his offensive production at the expense of his brute force and frequently fell into hazy lapses at the expense of both. He was your typical, rough-around-the-edges rookie with questions about consistency and motivation, but the Sabres decided that their usual slow development process wouldn’t be enough. They decided that their pressing need for top six centers outweighed their surplus at right wing and so the trade for Cody Hodgson went down. Hodgson, a former first round pick himself (10th overall, 2008 – 3 spots ahead of Tyler Myers), was trapped in depth hell behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler on the uber-talented Canucks roster. Despite a back injury and the bad attitude schmozzle that followed, Hodgson had found success this season while stuck on the third line. His 16 goals is second among rookies and his 33 points is fifth. He’s an electric pivot who will immediately improve the Sabres’ top six, while Kassian may or may not make the Canucks.

Sabres fans are well-acquainted with the departed Kassian, but how well does the fanbase know Hodgson? 3rd Man In’s Eric Schmitz has you covered, with an excellent post called “Getting To Know Your Newest Buffalo Sabre, Cody Hodgson”.

To conclude the day, the Sabres made a second trade with Vancouver. The defensive swap of Marc-Andre Gragnani and Alexander Sulzer was quite the anti-climactic follow-up to Kassian for Hodgson. Gragnani will find himself in a ten-man jumble with the Canucks while Sulzer will see himself slotted into the 7th defenseman role for the Sabres. Like I said, anti-climactic.

The Sabres now have Nashville’s 1st round pick in 2012 (which brings the pick count up to 4 in the first 44), top 6 center Cody Hodgson, and depth defenseman Alex Sulzer, making them better despite giving up their big power forward and big penalty killing center. They’re poised to go into the draft and free agency with assets to use or move as they see fit, more scoring ability immediately, and another blueliner who can compete with Mike Weber for a roster spot. Let’s see how the new guys look on Wednesday as the Sabres take on the Ducks in Anaheim (that Alex will be attending in person!).

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