Earlier today, Tom Gulitti of northjersey.com threw out an interesting notion in passing, while discussing the New Jersey Devils’ need for a defenceman – reacquiring Johnny Oduya from the Jets.
The idea struck as something very plausible, something Oduya would likely welcome – after all, the best years of his relatively young NHL career were played with the Devils, including two consecutive 25 point-plus seasons before being sent to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade.
Certainly, the Devils could use Oduya as they try to rebuild what has become a shell of their former defensive prowess. Gone are the days of Stevens-Niedermayer-Brodeur who could assure victory for Jersey even if only one goal was tallied by the teams admittedly weak offence.
Oduya has the capabilities to be a leader in the right system – but on a Jets squad that already has strong leaders in Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, leadership isn’t as much on the want list.
In exchange, the Jets would undeniably be looking for offence, and that could come from the Devils in a couple different players. Chief among them is Winnipeg-born Travis Zajac, who hasn’t performed well this year amidst injury woes. Zajac could fit the double bill of being an explosive, dependable scorer who the Jets could certainly rely on to fill the net a bit more, while also becoming the hometown marquee name, which was a role that was to be filled by Eric Fehr. (No one at this point can say that Fehr has lived up to expectations).
With tonight’s trade of Pavel Kubina, Oduya can be counted as an in-demand player, especially in the Garden State. Don’t be surprised if Johnny finds his way back to Jersey by the NHL’s trade deadline.
Jon Waldman has written about hockey for several publications over his decade-long journalism career, including The Hockey News, The Toronto Sun and Winnipeg Men Magazine. A graduate of Ryerson University’s journalism program, Jon is working on his first book on the history of hockey, to go along with two other books he has published since 2009.