When Cody Hodgson came to Nashville last April to take his sister, a student at Belmont University, to a Predators playoff game, he liked what he saw. Now, he’ll be sporting Preds Gold, too.
The 25-year-old Hodgson signed a one-year deal with the Predators on Wednesday, quickly finding a new home after the Buffalo Sabres bought out the remainder of his contract earlier in the week.
Nashville represents a fresh start for Hodgson, and that’s exactly what he’s looking for.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to come in and play the way I know I can play,” Hodgson said. “My biggest feeling toward the deal is I want to be a part of something that’s a success and contribute to that.”
A first-round pick by Vancouver in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Hodgson began his career with the Canucks before being dealt to Buffalo in 2012. The Toronto native had a career year with the Sabres in 2013-14, potting 20 goals and 44 points.
A 6-foot-0, 192 pound center, Hodgson says there was mutual interest between the two parties, which made reaching a deal that much easier.
“The Predators called me pretty early just to see if there was interest, but at the same time, it was a team that I really targeted and wanted to see if I had an opportunity here,” Hodgson said. “I know Nashville as a team and as an organization is only going to do good things, so I wanted to be a part of it.”
“He realizes it’s a good fit for him,” Predators General Manager David Poile said of Hodgson. “Cody Hodgson’s decision to come here, over the other clubs that he was talking to, was probably pretty well thought out. [He knew] this would be a good opportunity for him to be able to execute his skills at the highest level and give him the most chance of being successful.”
Poile envisions Hodgson getting a chance on the third line, with Calle Jarnkrok, who centered the third line for most of last season, sliding over to play on the wing.
“Our goal is to try to get a third line that can be a little bit more productive this year,” Poile said. “We had two lines last season that were very productive and we just need to get more goals out of our third line.”
Hodgson works out with Preds forward James Neal during the summer months, and he also knows Colin Wilson and Ryan Ellis. Plus, with a family member in school nearby, familiarity in the Music City will only help with the transition.
“I’m excited, I think it’s a great opportunity and a great team that’s competing to win the Stanley Cup,” Hodgson said. “I hope that I can be a piece of it.”