Image courtesy of The Province

The Vancouver Canucks made the biggest splash on trade deadline day this year, trading Cody Hodgson and Alex Sulzer for Marc-Andre Gragnani and Zack Kassian.

It was a move that shocked many Canuck fans, and sent fans into a frenzy. This trade was probably the most unpopular trade in Canucks history since Trevor Linden was sent packing by the Canucks in the late 90’s, an era of hockey that most Canuck fans would like to forget.

It’s easy to understand why Canuck fans disliked this trade so much. Cody Hodgson was the Canucks first round draft pick the year after the team drafted Patrick White in the first round, he was a stand out on Team Canada at the World Junior tournament, scoring 16 points in six games, and nearly made the team as an 18-year-old. He also 16 goals and and 33 points this season, giving the Canucks production from the third line.

The Canucks gave up a good, young player in this trade, but I still think they made a good trade.

In Zack Kassian, the Canucks are getting a big, powerful winger, a former first-round draft pick, 13th overall, who can skate and throw his body around, and contrary to many peoples thoughts, he actually has some touch in the offensive zone. The Canucks haven’t traded for some meat head enforcer like some fans believe, although Kassian can drop the gloves if he has to. According to hockeyfights.com, Kassian, has three fights this season, one in the AHL and one in the NHL.

Kassian, who is a year younger than Cody Hodgson, is having a better season than Hodgson did at the same time in his young career. The stats don’t lie.

As a 20/21-year-old this season, Kassian, has played 30 games in the American Hockey League, and at the time of the trade 27 games in the NHL. Cody Hodgson played 52 games in the AHL and eight in the NHL when he was a 20/21-year-old. For the sake of fair comparison, let’s compare their AHL stats.

Both Hodgson and Kassian were top prospects in their organizations, so it would be safe to assume both got their fair share of ice time in the minors.

Kassian’s stat line in the AHL this season read like this:

30GP 15G 11A 26Pts 31PIMS +4

Hodgson’s stat line in the AHL at the same age read like this:

52GP 17G 13A 30Pts 14PIMS -12

Kassian has played in 22 less games, in the AHL, but he has scored only two less goals, scored four less points and has a better plus/minus and more penalty minutes. Kassian has also played in 27 games in the NHL at the time of the trade, compared to eight for Hodgson at the same age.

All I’m saying is give this trade time, Hodgson may have been having a breakout season this year, but he wasn’t exactly playing against the cream of the crop defencemen, not while on the same team that has the Sedin twins on one line and Ryan Kesler on the other.

This trade could end up being the Markus Naslund for Alex Stojanov, where the Canucks give up the skilled forward, for the power forward, or it could end up being the Cam Neely trade, where the Sabres give up on a young, power forward too early.

There is risk in this trade, but there is risk in every trade, and only time will tell how this trade works out for both teams. In the end the Canucks gave up a good, young player, for another. They gave up a piece player in a run to the Stanley Cup for another player that will be a piece in a run to the Stanley Cup.

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