The Vancouver Canucks are in Buffalo right now getting set for a Saturday tilt with the Sabres, but before you get excited about another Hockey Night in Canada contest between the expansion cousins, let me remind you that the game is at 10am. It's really more of an Ungodly Hockey Morning in Canada. (It's a dumb time for a game, is what I'm saying. 10am is for coffee, not hockey. My mind is hardly sharp enough to write about a hockey game at 10am, so I can't even imagine what a trial it must be competing in it. Still, if the Canucks have a sleepy first period, I will show zero empathy in ripping them for not being ready. You can't spell "hypocrisy" without "hockey" -- provided you spell it "hypockrisey". Anyway.)
As with any Vancouver-Buffalo matchup, it behooves us to check in on the Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian swap of 2012. Who's winning it?
Well. Cody Hodgson has two points thus far this season, a goal and an assist. With the Nashville Predators. And Zack Kassian, now a Montreal Canadien, is in rehab. Also, both GMs who made the trade have since been fired. Still too close to call.
Unless we look at asset and cap management. The Sabres bought Hodgson out. Two years after signing the centre for six years at $29.5 million, Buffalo paid the remaining $19 million this offseason for Hodgson to simply go away. You want to talk about losing a trade? The Sabres turned a 13th overall pick (Kassian) into a $19 million hole in their pocket. It doesn't matter how the other team did. That's a loss.
Not that the Canucks fared much better, but the Canucks fared much better. There was no $19 million buyout -- they simply traded Kassian to the Canadiens, and they even got a player back in Brandon Prust! Sure, they had to toss in a fifth-rounder, but fifth round picks practically grow on trees! You get a new one every year. Money, as your parents have probably told you, does not grow on trees.
Plus Prust is on an expiring contract. If the Canucks move him for even a fourth-round draft pick at the trade deadline, then they'll have incrementally improved their draft position. The Zack Kassian trade, via the Cody Hodgson trade, can still make them marginally better. Take that, Buffalo!
In hindsight, where this trade really turned in the Canucks' favour was in the timing of the players' second contracts. Hodgson's entry-level deal expired after the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season -- during which he put up 34 points in 48 games playing between skilled wingers, mostly because the Sabres had no one else to put there. And they still had no one else when Hodgson took those numbers into the negotiation. With all kinds of leverage, he was able to threaten a holdout, and back the Sabres into a truly gaudy deal that they would end up regretting.
The Canucks, on the other hand, bought themselves a year with the trade. That would have been their messy negotiation otherwise. But Kassian didn't require a new contract until the full, post-lockout, 2013-14 season, at which point the team had seen enough to know they didn't need to break the bank on the second contract. They were able to sign Kassian to a much more reasonable bridge deal -- two years, $3.5 million -- and then move on from the player a year into it without paying half the gross domestic product of the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu.
In effect, neither team won the trade, but the Sabres lost it harder. So we're calling this one a win by default. Default! Default!