The Blackhawks have acquired former friend Johnny Oduya from the Dallas Stars to solidify their blueline as they go for their fourth Stanley Cup title in the last eight seasons. Oduya – a trade deadline acquisition himself from the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012 – was a top-four defenseman for Chicago in their 2013 and 2015 Cup-winning years. This is the Blackhawks’ second move prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline, having acquired forward Tomas Jurco from Detroit on Friday.
In order to bring the Swede back to Chicago, general manager Stan Bowman gave up 2011 first-round disappointment Mark McNeill, who played a total of one NHL contest for the Blackhawks. The 2018 fourth-round pick paired with McNeill can become a third-round pick if the Blackhawks advance to the conference finals and he plays 50 percent or more of the postseason games. The Blackhawks, who are near the cap ceiling, are also only on the hook for half of Oduya’s remaining salary, with Dallas retaining half his money in the deal.
Bowman is no stranger to trade deadline upgrades, with the club having acquired Oduya, Michal Handzus, Antoine Vermette, and Andrew Ladd, among others, in recent years. Handzus, Ladd, and now Oduya all played a previous stint with Chicago prior to being moved to the team at the trade deadline.
Overall, it is a low-risk, high-reward trade by the Blackhawks. Oduya has experienced playing with each of the defensemen on the roster in some capacity outside of Brian Campbell. After choosing Dallas in free agency in the summer of 2015 because of the Blackhawks being cash-strapped by the salary cap, Oduya is not far removed from Chicago’s system, one where he has the full trust of head coach Joel Quenneville. Oduya’s first stint involved second-pairing minutes and helping out on the penalty kill, which was notorious for being one of the best in the entire league.