Johnny Oduya fits the bill for Stan Bowman
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org February 27, 2012 9:54PM
Updated: March 29, 2012 8:17AM
While it might take some time to learn which defenseman he works with best, new Blackhawks blue-liner Johnny Oduya knows where he fits when it comes to special teams.
“I would say I’m a better penalty-killer than I am a power-play player,” said Oduya, who was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets for second- and third-round picks in 2013 on Monday.
“I figure I have some skill, but maybe more [at] 5-on-5. [It’s] using my skating a little bit to jump into plays and stuff like that than actually on the power play. I’ve played PK pretty much my whole career.”
The Hawks were searching for a puck-mover who can skate well for their blue line. General manager Stan Bowman believes Oduya fits that bill.
“We think that his style really fits in what we do here in terms of his ability to skate,” Bowman said. “He’s one of the better skating defenseman in the NHL. He’s got a lot of experience.”
Bowman admitted the Hawks were relying too much on youngsters Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen. Oduya, 30, alleviates some of the burden. He’s in the final year of a three-year deal that has a $3.5 million cap hit.
“He’s capable of playing a solid 20 minutes a night,” Bowman said.
Oduya’s best seasons came with the New Jersey Devils a few years ago. This season, he has averaged nearly 19 minutes per game, the fifth-most among Jets defensemen. He also is averaging more than two minutes per game on the penalty kill and has blocked 98 shots.
“Blocking shots is something I’m not afraid of doing,” Oduya said.
Oduya, who has 109 points in 445 career games, will practice Tuesday.
“You don’t want to leave your friends and teammates behind after battling beside them all year, but my first thought was excitement,” he said.