As the most highly touted Canucks draft pick since Ryan Kesler, Cody Hodgson has giant expectations from fans in Vancouver.
Those expectations were then further raised in 2009 when Hodgson had a dominant campaign and was named the Canadian Major Junior player of the year, in addition to winning gold at the 2009 World Juniors.
Then things went sideways as he suffered a back injury that was misdiagnosed and led to the 2009-10 season being a write-off. Last summer the injury was finally diagnosed properly and corrected, and Hodgson got his career back on track, turning pro and playing 52 AHL games, as well as eight NHL regular season games. He added another 12 NHL games in the playoffs.
Hodgson has won the second line centre role on the Canucks, at least for the first month of the season while Ryan Kesler recovers from hip surgery. After Kesler returns, Hodgson most likely will shift over to playing the wing on the second line.
So keeping that in mind, what would Vancouver fans consider to be a successful season for Cody Hodgson?
Well, it'd be nice if he won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie while giving former Team Canada teammate Steven Stamkos a run for his money in the scoring race.
But what would be a realistic expectation for the much heralded prospect?
I'd say that 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points is a reasonable goal.
First, Hodgson put up 0.25 points per game during his eight-game call-up last season. If he plays a full 82 games, 40 points would be double his point production from last year. But aside from any increases in his own game, Hodgson is going to be playing with much better players.
Last year he mainly played on the fourth line, this year he is going to have much more talented linemates, namely Ryan Kesler, a 41-goal scorer in his own right. He should also get some power play time, albeit on the second unit.
Second, 40 points would put Hodgson at around the same level as Kesler's linemates from last season. Mason Raymond put up 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) and Mikael Samuelsson had 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists).
For Hodgson to stay with the Canucks for the entire season, he needs to be in an offensive role so he can play to his strengths. Therefore he has to be at least as good as the second liners from last year in order to keep a roster spot.
Cody Hodgson will be given every chance to succeed by Canucks management. Hopefully he is able to take the opportunity and run with it.