Unrestricted free agent defenseman Johnny Oduya could only wait so long for the Blackhawks to clear salary cap room and, once it became evident Chicago GM Stan Bowman wouldn’t be able to, it didn’t take long for Oduya to find a new home.
Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas Stars announced they have signed the 33-year-old blueliner to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million, which includes a modified no-trade clause, according to War-On-Ice. The Stars were long-rumored to be interested in Oduya’s services, but it took two weeks before Chicago’s cap situation was such that Oduya moved on.
"Johnny is a steady, veteran presence on the blueline and he'll complement our group nicely," Nill said in a release. "He has achieved a great deal of success, winning the Stanley Cup twice, and his championship-mentality will be valuable in our room."
With Oduya now a Star, Dallas has a veteran defenseman added to a group that is largely in the early stages of their careers. Outside of Oduya, the oldest Stars defensemen are Alex Goligoski (29), Jason Demers and Jordie Benn (27). The rest of the group is 23 or younger, which means there’s quite the gap in both age and experience at the NHL level.
Oduya’s best years in the league have come over the past four seasons in Chicago, where he was often paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson to play shutdown minutes and perform penalty killing duty. This past season, he was part of the Blackhawks four-man defensive unit that played heavy minutes throughout the post-season and were key in helping Chicago to its third Stanley Cup in six seasons. Oduya was also a member of the Blackhawks' 2013 Stanley Cup victory.
While not an offensive dynamo, Oduya’s skating is a great asset and can help him get out of tough spots. Over his past three full seasons in Chicago, Oduya scored eight goals and 38 points, averaging more than 20 minutes per game each season.
Coincidentally, what made the Oduya signing possible for Dallas was the acquisition of Patrick Sharp from Chicago, which also included the Stars shipping Ryan Garbutt and Trevor Daley to the Blackhawks. Oduya’s annual cap hit of $3.75 million is only slightly more than the $3.3 million Daley will earn in each of the next two seasons.
With the signing, the Stars are likely done making major moves. They now have roughly $2.3 million in cap space and a roster that looks ready to compete in the tough Central Division in 2015-16. The Blackhawks and Stars face off for the first time next season on Dec. 22 in Dallas.