It’s been a long time coming for Cody Hodgson.

The 20-year-old was the 10th pick of the 2008 draft and considered a can’t-miss kid. He was The Hockey News’ 2009 Future Watch cover boy and our No. 2-rated NHL prospect. He was named the 2009 Canadian major junior player of the year and was twice a standout for Canada at the world juniors.

But lately the can’t-miss kid hasn’t exactly been hitting the mark.

Health issues have played a role there. So has some controversy.

First and foremost was a back injury sustained in July 2009. Originally diagnosed as a disc injury, it was found to be a torn muscle more than a year later. In the interim, the Canucks and the Hodgson camp were at odds concerning everything from treatment to how many medical opinions — and from whom — a teenage prospect should dare seek out.

The dispute even led to some harsh words in the media by Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault. After cutting Hodgson before the 2009-10 campaign, Vigneault reacted to Hodgson questioning the Canucks medical staff by basically calling him an immature kid trying to deflect blame for his poor performance.

In the end, what basically was a lost season cost Hodgson in his training and development, and stalled what seemed an easy road to the NHL. Well out of sight, he fell somewhat out of mind.

The uncomfortably public frostiness between Hodgson and the Canucks seems to have been resolved — or at least set aside — but it will be interesting to see how Hodgson performs under Vigneault, and how the coach uses the skilled centre.

This season the hard-luck case suffered a cracked orbital bone during practice with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose — a teammate’s errant stick clipped him. That was Dec. 8 and Hodgson, the Moose’s leading scorer at the time, just recently returned, still wearing a full face mask.

A few contests and an AHL all-star game later, Hodgson is up with the big club.

Just exactly how he’ll be utilized or even how long he’ll be up will likely be based on day-to-day decisions for now. But fourth-line duty or not to begin with, Canucks fans shouldn’t forget how excited they were about Hodgson’s future just 18 months ago. Here’s betting it won’t take anywhere near 18 months to get even more excited about his present.

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