The reaction from the fanbase when Stan Bowman acquired Johnny Oduya from the Winnipeg Jets was comical.
In a thin market, with so many teams still in contention, it was near impossible for Bowman to acquire a big name, impact guy to add to either the blue line or the middle on the second line, without making an incredible overpayment.
Instead, Bowman went with Oduya, sacrificing a second and third round pick in the 2013 draft. The quality of that draft remains to be seen, but the Blackhawks already boast one of the top systems in the National Hockey League.
Now, Oduya isn’t an impact guy. Nor has he been any sort of savior for the Hawks. But he has brought some stability to a stumbling defensive corps. The difference he’s managed to make so far on the blue line was validated with his big game in the Hawks’ big win over the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Oduya notched a goal and an assist against the Blueshirts, as well as playing an outstanding defensive game. Just ask Ryan Callahan. His assist came off of a point shot that trickled in off of Andrew Shaw‘s stick. His goal came barely over a minute over the equalizer from Patrick Sharp, with a laser from the blue line that gave the Blackhawks the 3-2 lead in the third period.
But Oduya’s contributions go beyond Friday night. They might not show up on the score sheet, but Oduya has proven to be a great fit for the Hawks. He’s logged a great chunk of minutes, taking the pressure off of pretty much everyone, especially the two young guys, Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen. He’s fast with the puck and has contributed on the penalty kill.
He’s not a gamechanger, but his presence has proven to be a very positive one. Not bad for a guy who very few people in Chicago wanted barely over a week ago.