Monday, February 27, 2012
Canucks make pair of deadline deals
ESPN.com news services
The Vancouver Canucks made a pair of trades Monday, adding Blue Jackets checking-line center Samuel Pahlsson and acquiring right wing Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani from Buffalo in exchange for center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer.
Hodgson was selected 10th overall in the 2008 draft and is playing his first full NHL season. Kassian is a physical forward, whom the Sabres selected 13th overall in the 2009 draft.
Vancouver sent two fourth-round draft picks and minor-league defenseman Taylor Ellington to Columbus in exchange for Pahlsson.
The 34-year-old Pahlsson, who won an Olympic gold medal with his native Sweden in 2006, has two goals and nine assists with 22 penalty minutes in 61 games this season. With a $2.65 million salary this season, he was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Pahlsson has six goals and 127 assists in 779 career NHL games with Columbus, Boston, Anaheim and Chicago. He was a major component of the Ducks' Stanley Cup title run in 2007.
Pahlsson came to the Blue Jackets as a free agent on July 1, 2009, and had 12 goals and 35 assists in 222 games with them.
Ellington, 23, is a former second-round draft pick, taken 33rd overall in the 2007 draft.
Hodgson was the key addition for a Buffalo team that has lacked playmaking depth up the middle since losing centers and co-captains Danny Briere and Chris Drury in free agency in 2007.
With 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 63 games this season, Hodgson is fifth among NHL rookies in points this season, and tied for second in goals despite averaging less than 13 minutes a game while playing on the high-powered Canucks' third line. He immediately becomes the Sabres fourth-leading scorer.
"He brings very solid two-way play," Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier said Monday. "Most teams are struggling to find top two-line centers. And as we started to go through the process of where we are going to get centermen going forward, it became a priority."
The Sabres are deep along the wings, which made Kassian expendable.
Selected 13th overall in the 2009 draft, Kassian has shown signs of playing with a rugged style but has had difficulty landing a regular role in Buffalo this season. He has three goals and four assists in 27 games split between stints in the minors.
Kassian's focus has been questioned. And he also ran into off-ice trouble in May 2010, when he was charged with assault for being involved in a bar fight in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario. The charge was dropped after Kassian completed 25 hours of community service.
Hodgson has faced questions, too.
After being drafted by Vancouver, he suffered a back injury during a team-supervised off-ice training session in 2009. He continued attempting to play, and the back injury -- a torn muscle -- went undiagnosed for several months and eventually forced him to miss most of his final junior season.
"It's a new opportunity, and we'll see what happens," Hodgson told TSN. "But I have mixed emotions. ... I'm still very shocked right now."
Hodgson is expected to join the Sabres for their game in Anaheim. And he'll have a chance to face his former team on Saturday, when the Sabres play at Vancouver.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.