VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -The Vancouver Canucks sent highly touted first-round draft pick Cody Hodgson back to his junior hockey team on Tuesday.
Hodgson, selected 10th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft, was widely expected to make the Canucks as a 19-year-old center after earning Canadian Junior Hockey Player of the Year honors last season while playing for Brampton in the Ontario Hockey League. He won the award ahead of John Tavares, who was taken first overall by the New York Islanders at this summer's entry draft.
Hodgson struggled to keep up in the preseason, however, after a bulging disk and nerve damage in his back forced him to miss six weeks of summer training and stay out of contact drills early in training camp. He finished with just one empty-net goal and one assist in six preseason games.
Hodgson, who also won a gold medal with Canada as the leading scorer at last year s World Junior Championships, said he had nothing left to prove in junior. But because he is only 19, the Canucks could not send him to the American Hockey League, and were forced to either keep him or return him to the OHL, where he had 43 goals and 92 points in 53 regular-season games last year.
Vancouver also sent goalie Cory Schneider and speedy forward Michael Grabner - both also former first-round draft picks - to Manitoba of the AHL on Monday along with six other players. That leaves the Canucks with 28 players, including four that could start the season on injured reserve, as teams trim their rosters to 23 players or less in time for the start of the season Thursday.