Armed with a new six-year contract, Cody Hodgson found himself in a familiar spot Thursday at Buffalo Sabres training camp: on a line with Thomas Vanek.
Buffalo's top two scorers from last season skated with Marcus Foligno.
"We like [Vanek and Hodgson] together for sure. They were good last year," coach Ron Rolston told the team's website. "I think Cody can make plays, really good vision plays and obviously [Vanek's] a good finisher.
"Right now we've got Marcus there to provide some heavy hockey hopefully on the wing, hopefully if Marcus can come in and continue to play that way, be physical and make some space for those guys."
Hodgson, a restricted free agent who had 34 points (15 goals) last season, signed a reported $25.5 million contract Wednesday, just in time for camp.
"I knew we were going to get it done. It was just a matter of when," Hodgson said after practice at First Niagara Center. "I'm really thankful for the opportunity."
Though Vanek (41 points, 20 goals) is in the final year of his contract and the subject of trade rumors, Hodgson, 23, is now a cornerstone of the rebuilding project.
"He???s one of those players that in the future, he???s going to be a leader for us," Rolston said. "He???s an important player and we wanted him from the start. And I think he wanted to be here. He was here and was chomping at the bit to get things done so he could play today, so it says a lot about him."