Canucks' Hodgson having solid rookie season

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:57 PM ET

EDMONTON - Cody Hodgson has never felt healthier or been as fit.

The Vancouver Canucks centre is hoping a strict off-season training regimen translates into a solid rookie season.

It’s what the Canucks envisioned when they selected Hodgson with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

“He’s been good,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “He came to camp with a real strong focus and a real strong attitude, and everyday he’s been getting better. We’re real happy with his progression. We only see upside there.”

Hodgson, 21, had a goal in four games heading into Saturday’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers.

He’s trying to become a mainstay on the club this season and is off to a strong start.

“I put in a lot of work over the summer,” Hodgson said. “And it was a great experience being here for the playoffs last year. All that contributes to how I’m playing and I think it’s only going to get better. I just want to continue to work on my game every day.” Hodgson prepared for the season by training with former NHLer Gary Roberts in Toronto this summer.

He arrived at Canucks training camp determined to earn a spot on the roster after being cut on three previous occasions.

“I think everything is better having trained with him, just overall strength,” Hodgson said. “The stuff he focuses on is all hockey, too. It’s specific to what we need to do to get better.

“You see all the guys that trained with him this summer, (Steven) Stamkos, (Jeff) Skinner, (James) Neal, there are tons of guys that work with him.

“This is probably the healthiest I’ve felt ever. I feel great.”

A back injury limited Hodgson the previous two years, setting back his development with the Canucks.

He was twice sent back to his junior team in Brampton before being assigned to play with the Manitoba Moose last season where he scored 17 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.

With his injury issues behind him, however, Hodgson was able to focus on his off-season workouts while at the same time trying to keep up to Roberts, who is still as fit as any of his clients.

“He’s unbelievable,” Hodgson said. “We were in the gym at 7 a.m. every day and he was finishing his workout. He lives further away than most guys. I was getting up at 5:30 every day, he was getting up at 4:30 everyday to work out. And then he trains guys the rest of the day. He’s in incredible shape still.”

With Ryan Kesler still out of the Canucks lineup recovering from off-season hip surgery, Hodgson is currently centring the team’s second line between Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.

Hodgson is trying to make the most of the opportunity.

“I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible,” Hodgson said. “I’m always excited to play every game and I’m getting a great opportunity.

“It’s been great so far, we just need to capitalize on our opportunities. We’ve been getting some great chances and eventually we know those chances will start going in for us.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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