VANCOUVER -- Don't be surprised to see Cody Hodgson start the season in Manitoba.
As a matter of fact, expect it. The odds of the rookie centre being in the Canucks opening night lineup is declining, considering the subpar performances he's showcased over his relatively brief preseason appearances.
"Cody is a skilled player with great offensive capabilities," Vigneault said this week of the 2008 first rounder.
"If he's going to make this team, it's going to be on those qualities.
"Is it best for him to play eight, nine minutes a game here, or is it best for him to play 20 minutes in Manitoba? What's best for our team? We're going to have to consider all those things."
Having just returned from back injury, time is not on Hodgson's side.
Neither is the demand for a progressing prospect who has yet to prove himself at the NHL level.
The Canucks are deep enough offensively this season to not have to rush the 20-year-old into the lineup, especially one with just over a dozen games of pro experience. With fellow top prospect Jordan Schroeder also with the Moose, it's a good opportunity for the two to develop chemistry in the AHL.
If Hodgson does in fact earn a spot amongst Vancouver's top 13 forwards, will a skilled, offensive mind like him truly be utilized in a third line role?
The Canucks are better off allowing him to learn and grow in the minors, playing with and against players older than him, rather than throwing him onto a team where expectations have never been higher.
With Hodgson's future on the Canucks more important than his current contributions, that Moose jersey has never looked better.