ANAHEIM, Calif. --
The 48-hour saga of Cody Hodgson
finally saw him skate with his new teammates in Anaheim on Wednesday morning.
Hodgson arrived in Southern California about 9 p.m. on Tuesday night after he flew from Phoenix to Buffalo to complete visa work and medical clearance, then to Anaheim in time for Wednesday night's game against the Ducks.
"We just got something quick to eat (last night) and shut it down really quick," Hodgson said. "It didn't take long to fall asleep.
"There's still unanswered texts and calls. The phone's ringing off the hook -- well-wishers, people trying to know what's going on. It's been a whirlwind. But I'm excited and ready to go."
There was also a fake Twitter account someone is using to pose as Hodgson.
"That's nice," Hodgson said with a smile.
It was by far the craziest two days in the young hockey career of Hodgson, who was traded with Alexander Sulzer
from Vancouver to Buffalo for Zack Kassian
and Marc-Andre Gragnani
in a shocking move at Monday's trade deadline.
Hodgson did his first full introductory media scrum and acknowledged he was taken aback by the move but didn't say much more.
"I didn't know what to think," Hodgson said. "But I'm excited. I'm looking forward. It's a good group of guys and hopefully I can fit in and do well, depending on where things go. But I'm interested in helping the team get in the playoff picture."
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff
will have Hodgson center Tyler Ennis
and Drew Stafford
. Ville Leino
will move down to third line center with Nathan Gerbe
and Patrick Kaleta
But Ruff added, "There's nothing etched in stone with these lines. We don't get a chance to practice them, so you don't know what they're going to look like. We can easily take a look at different lines even during the game."
Ruff met Hodgson for the first time and one thing stood out.
"I think the first thing you notice is the thickness," Ruff said. "He's got good hands. I think he understands the game. He's got good hands. Again, a young player (who) wants an elevated role. Obviously that's what we're going to try and give him."
That was an issue in Vancouver, where Hodgson was stuck behind Henrik Sedin
and Ryan Kesler
at center and averaged only 12:43 minutes of ice time.
Hodgson still poured in 16 goals and 17 assists in 63 games. He only said of his role in Vancouver, "They're a solid team, but so is here. They've had a bit of injury troubles, but most guys are pretty healthy now and I'm looking forward to getting back on track."
Hodgson was given jersey No. 19 and had all of 20 minutes with his new teammates. A lack of adrenaline probably won’t be an issue tonight.
"I'm a little nervous, but that's a good thing," Hodgson said.
It appears that Sulzer will start his Sabres career as a healthy scratch as the seventh defenseman.
The rare Anaheim-Buffalo tilt features Jonas Hiller
against Ryan Miller
Hiller will tie a franchise record with his 23rd straight start. Miller backstopped Buffalo to a 4-1 victory in the season opener Oct. 7 in the NHL Premiere Games.
Top line back together:
Judging from the morning skate, it looks Anaheim will go back to its top line of Bobby Ryan
, Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry
Ryan has been playing on the second line with Saku Koivu
and Teemu Selanne
, but Niklas Hagman
was with Koivu and Selanne on Wednesday morning.
"I don't care, really," Ryan said. "Either way, you got a playmaker in Saku or Getz and you got a guy that's really good around the net in Teemu and Pears. The only thing's that changed is the way you create offense through the cycle. I think for the most part, I've had chemistry with both sides, so I'm comfortable anyway."
Smith-Pelly to stay: Devante Smith-Pelly
will remain with the Ducks for the rest of the season, Boudreau told the Orange County Register earlier this week.
The move speaks to the development of the 19-year-old, who suffered a broken foot in the World Juniors but has carved out a role with his broad shoulders and third-line grit.
Smith-Pelly said he had to adjust to NHL speed, but felt he was a regular shortly before the injury.
"I felt right around the Christmas break, before I went to World Juniors, probably around the time Bruce came on board, that's when I kind of felt I was getting the hang of it and I could be an everyday player," Smith-Pelly said.
"Bruce kind of gave me a little extra confidence and I'm just hoping to continue that."