The Dallas Stars have traded defenseman Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 1. The deal was originally announced by Pierre LeBrun of ESPN and was later confirmed by Bob McKenzie. The Blackhawks will be sending former first-round pick Mark McNeill in the deal along with a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2018 (that could become a third) in exchange for the veteran Oduya. The Stars are also retaining half of Oduya’s salary.
Oduya wanna come back to Chicago?
He sure did! pic.twitter.com/gM4vkpj3Su
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 1, 2017
Back to the Blackhawks
Oduya has played in 37 games this season, scoring one goal and seven points. A legitimate top-four defenseman, even at 35-years-old, Oduya will come in and solidify the Blackhawks defensive unit that has been looking for a solid top-four option to replace him since he opted to sign with the Stars in 2015. Though he’s not known for his offensive ability, the Blackhawks know exactly what they’re getting in Oduya.
Oduya played in Chicago for four seasons prior to signing a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Stars in the offseason of 2015. He was a crucial part of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victories in 2013 and 2015 and had been an integral part of the lineup’s consistency for years. He was originally acquired by the Blackhawks in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets but started his career with the New Jersey Devils during the 2006-07 season after being drafted in the seventh round by the Washington Capitals.
When talking about the possibility of being moved at the trade deadline, Oduya had this to say after the Stars’ practice Monday:
“Obviously management and decisions is out of my hands, that’s something I’m not going to worry about too much,” Oduya said. “I’m not going to deny I know what’s going on in this league and how things work. But when that day comes or not, I’ll be prepared for that either way.”
A Seasoned Veteran
For Oduya, this season hasn’t been without obstacles. The 6-foot, 195-pound defenseman returned to the Stars’ lineup Sunday against the Boston Bruins after missing 15 games with an injury to his ankle. Now that his health is looking to be back to 100 percent, he was a prime candidate to be moved.
A veteran of 783 NHL games, Oduya has scored 36 goals and 180 points in the NHL. The Blackhawks had previously made a trade to acquire Tomas Jurco from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 24th in exchange for a 2017 third-round draft pick. The Blackhawks are usually one of the more active teams around the trade deadline. Despite not making their typical splash to acquire a top trade option, the Blackhawks were able to shore up their roster while only giving up mid-level draft picks and a trading away a prospect that simply wasn’t moving up the depth chart despite once being considered a top draft pick.
The Blackhawks are currently sitting in second place in a very competitive Central Division, just three points behind the Minnesota Wild. While the Blackhawks are a virtual lock to make the postseason, it’s been defensive depth in the past that has caused them to struggle in deep playoff runs. Getting Oduya back in the fold will help them potentially claim the first spot in the Central division, but will, more importantly, shore up their blueline for another deep playoff push.
The Blackhawks have also placed defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on the injured reserve.
Make sure to follow all of the NHL Trade Deadline action with our THW Deadline Deal Tracker.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.