Moose may bag phenom

Brampton's Hodgson 'in an elite handful of junior hockey players in the world'

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There's no question Cody Hodgson is one of the best players in junior hockey. Whether he can make the jump to pro hockey with an impact remains to be seen. But Winnipeg fans won't be guessing for long.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/05/2009 (4840 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There’s no question Cody Hodgson is one of the best players in junior hockey. Whether he can make the jump to pro hockey with an impact remains to be seen. But Winnipeg fans won’t be guessing for long.

Hodgson’s Brampton Battalion were knocked out of the Ontario Hockey League final earlier in the weekend and the Vancouver Canucks’ first-round pick in the 2007 NHL entry draft is likely headed for the Manitoba Moose.

Details need to be worked out and the 19-year-old Hodgson has played a lot of hockey this season between his OHL schedule and being a member of Team Canada at last winter’s world juniors, so his arrival in Winnipeg is not a slam dunk. Neither, it should be said, is his presence in the Moose lineup.

CP The OHL’s Cody Hodgson will get a close look from Moose coaches if he practises with the club Monday.

Hodgson told the Vancouver Province Saturday that he expects to be in Winnipeg early in the week.

"It will be an exciting experience for me," he told the Province. "I’m looking forward to this. I know the players there are a little bigger and faster so that will be an adjustment for me."

But if Hodgson can give the Moose a boost, and there’s a history of top-flight junior players doing just that at the AHL level, Winnipeg hockey fans may just see him in action as early as Friday night in Game 1 of the AHL’s Western Conference championship.

The Moose were pretty mum on the subject Saturday, but it’s believed Hodgson, a 6-foot, 190-pound centre, will arrive in Winnipeg for Monday’s practice and the coaching staff will give him a look to see if he can benefit their lineup.

This won’t be a power struggle between the Canucks and Moose management. Clearly, Vancouver would like to see Hodgson in pro competition, but GM Mike Gillis has stayed out of Moose affairs all season, trusting the hockey people in Winnipeg to do the right thing with his players. He’s been rewarded for that trust and it would be a major shift in policy for Gillis to start big-footing at this point.

There are a number of examples of junior players stepping into the AHL post-season and making a difference. Goalie Carey Price led the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Calder Cup two seasons ago stepping right out of junior, and in 2005, the Philadelphia Phantoms rode juniors Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to the Cup.

Al Murray, head scout for Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence, says Hodgson is capable of plenty.

"He’s in an elite handful of junior hockey players in the world. We’ve seen that with Brampton and with Team Canada at the worlds. He’s as good as it gets in junior hockey. Maybe he doesn’t do each individual thing better than everyone, but he does everything together better than most," Murray said.

"His impact will depend on what role the organization asks of him. If they put him with two offensive players, I think he can score and create because he’s such a smart kid. But if they put him on a third line and ask him to check, I don’t think he’ll really have an impact. Sometimes a player can only be as good as you let him."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

 

Cody Hodgson file

 

Chosen 10th overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft by the Vancouver Canucks.

 

Captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2008 world under-18 championship.

 

Registered 16 points, including five goals, in six games to lead the 2009 world junior tournament in scoring. Hodgson scored twice in Canada’s 5-1 win over Sweden in the gold-medal game.

 

Ontario Hockey League’s 2009 coaches poll named Hodgson the league’s smartest player for the second straight season. The poll also judged Hodgson to be the OHL’s hardest worker, best penalty killer and the best on faceoffs.

 

Named the OHL’s player of the year, most sportsmanlike player and a first-team all-star in 2008-09.

 

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