SUN Hockey Pool

Hodgson's stock on a high

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

He is going to be a first-round pick in the National Hockey League entry draft in June and he has spent the past few days basking in the glow that comes with winning the under-18 world championship with Canada.

So, how will Cody Hodgson spend part of his summer?

Taking skating lessons.

"My skating needs to improve," the 18-year-old Markham resident said. "Agility, going sideways, stuff like that."

While NHL scouts agree that is true, Hodgson could not have left a better impression than the one he put down in Russia, which culminated in a win against the host nation for gold.

As Canada's captain, Hodgson not only had to set the tone for his teammates with leadership, but wound up leading the tournament in scoring with 12 points (two goals and 10 assists) in seven games, tying the record for a Canadian in the under-18 championship, set by Pierre-Marc Bouchard in 2002.

Hodgson had 40 goals and 85 points this past season in 68 games for the Brampton Battalion. A six-foot, 185-pound centre, Hodgson was slotted ninth by NHL Central Scouting in its final rankings among skaters in North America and, in the Independent Scouting Service's most recent rankings, was No. 9 among all players.

In the annual OHL coaches poll, Hodgson was voted the smartest player in the Eastern Conference, ahead of other talented teens such as John Tavares and Logan Couture.

The Maple Leafs pick at the seventh spot, and though a plethora of talented defencemen comes after consensus No. 1 Steven Stamkos, Hodgson will give food for thought when Toronto takes its spot at the podium in Ottawa.

Named one of Canada's top three players at the under-18, Hodgson left an indelible mark on former Leafs coach Pat Quinn, who was behind Canada's bench.

"He had a lot to do with our success," Quinn said on the Battalion's website. "I've had a lot of guys older than him who don't conduct themselves like he does."

That's a bonus that will land at the feet of the club that chooses Hodgson, who plans to get a university degree in business no matter where his hockey career takes him. A son of former Ontario politician Chris Hodgson and his wife Marie, Cody commands respect because he shows it.

"Nothing Cody does surprises me," Battalion director of hockey operations/coach Stan Butler said. "He comes from a well-balanced, solid family and it shows."

With the under-18 championship and a celebratory steak dinner with his family out of the way, Hodgson will turn his attention to the draft.

"I'll take a couple of days to adjust and start thinking about it," Hodgson said. "We have the (scouting) combine coming up. I'm going to try my best to make it once I get to camp in the fall. I would love to follow in the footsteps of guys like (Patrick) Kane and (Sam) Gagner, (who cracked NHL rosters in their draft year)."


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