Could the Leafs land Cody Hodgson?

Not saying it’s going to happen, but one interesting rumor making the rounds would have the Toronto Maple Leafs trading defenseman and leading scorer Tomas Kaberle to the Vancouver Canucks for prospect Cody Hodgson, who has finally overcome his back problems and is playing well for the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario League.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has said he does not plan to approach Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause prior to the March 3 trade deadline, but that clause is rescinded from after the draft until Aug. 15 if the Maple Leafs don’t make the playoffs. So if the potential for a trade with the Canucks were to materialize, Kaberle would have some control over his destiny by agreeing to a deal prior to the deadline, ensuring he would be going to a playoff-bound team with a good future rather than facing the uncertainty of being dealt to any one of the 28 other teams during the summer.

The Canucks already have three good offensive producers on the blueline in Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler and Sami Salo who are all under contract beyond this season. It’s worth questioning whether the Canucks would make themselves any better by acquiring Kaberle, unless they intend to move a defenseman to acquire more help up front. Of their current defensemen, only Willie Mitchell and Salo have no-trade clauses in their contracts.

From a Maple Leafs perspective, the deal would make much more sense. Chances are, Kaberle will ultimately be traded anyway and if the Leafs could get Hodgson, it would give them another prospect and help fill the hole created by losing their first round picks in the 2010 and 2011 drafts.

And while Hodgson has not complained, there are those who believe he would not be shattered if the Canucks were to deal his rights. The problems began in training camp when Hodgson either suffered or exacerbated a back injury, depending on which side you take on the issue. Hodgson played six pre-season games in an effort to make the team, but was returned to junior hockey after training camp. The injury put his season in jeopardy and forced him to sit out the World Junior Championship.

It’s also believed Hodgson is not thrilled the Canucks essentially called his character into question. In fact, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said during camp that Hodgson did not play hurt during the pre-season and might be trying to blame a summer back injury for his disappointing performance in training camp.

Since returning to the Brampton lineup, the 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft has two goals and seven points in six games.