Monday, January 31, 2011

Alex Edler Out, Cody Hodgson Recalled

The Vancouver Canucks got some bad news before the all-star break, Alex Edler's back injury will require surgery. He is listed as out indefinitely. The surgery is scheduled for today so we may receive a little more information, but right now the prognosis is that he will miss the rest of the regular season. His readiness for the playoffs is still in question.

This is obviously a a huge blow to the team. Alex Edler has been the team's best defenseman and for parts of the season he has been their best player. That said, the injury also has a silver lining. The Canucks no longer have to worry about fitting Sami Salo under the salary cap. Salo has been practicing for about 5 weeks, but there's still no indication of when, or if, he will return to the lineup. Many were suspecting that the Canucks' plan was to keep Salo on injured reserve for as long as possible - perhaps even longer than needed - in order to maximize their salary cap relief. That debate should be settled soon as the Canucks will want Salo in the lineup ASAP.

The cap relief provided by Edler's injury has already had an impact as the team has recalled Cody Hodgson from the Manitoba Moose. Hodgson and his $1.66m contract would not be here if not for the cap relief provided by Edler's absence. This move is a little surprising as Hodgson has only played 4 games (with 0 pts) since returning from a broken orbital bone. The Canucks must be confident that his health and conditioning are where they need to be.

Cody is expected to debut as the team's 4th line centre, a position which has been a problem since Alex Bolduc went down with a shoulder injury. He's also likely to centre the struggling second power play unit. It remains to be seen whether this is a permanent promotion. Mike Gillis is on record as saying that once Cody is recalled it will be for good. My guess is that the Canucks saw an opportunity to get Hodgson acclimated to the NHL in a low pressure situation. If he excels he'll stick around, if he doesn't there's no harm in returning him to Manitoba. There's also the trade deadline factor. With several underachieving forwards there is the possibility that Hodgson steals someone's job and that someone is moved at the deadline.

Canuck fans should get their first look at Cody Hogdson tomorrow in Dallas.