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Blackhawks Fri Mar 30 2012

Oduya Proves to be a Good Move for Hawks

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngWay back in February, when the trade deadline was fast approaching, the world of hockey was wondering what Chicago would do to shake their team up. They had just surfaced from a nine-game losing streak and needed a good center and a stronger defense. Rumors flew that something big was going to happen. Some even talked about trading Patrick Kane for a new goalie.

In the end, the Hawks sent John Scott to the New York Rangers in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and traded second- and third-round picks in the 2013 Draft for Swedish-born defenseman Johnny Oduya. It wasn't the press-stopping decision that was expected, but a month later it's clear that the pick paid off all the same.

Oduya.jpgThe moment he came to Chicago, Oduya blended beautifully with the team, as though he'd been there all along and adapting easily to Joel Quenneville's style. He plays with patience under pressure and uses his head. He's a great puck mover and five games in, the defender slipped one in the back of the net to break the Blackhawks' streak of nine scoreless power-plays. Oduya has claimed four assists since and taken a significant role in the power-play.

With Duncan Keith's recent five-game suspension Oduya's presence has proved crucial. He was already seeing significant ice time upwards of 20 minutes as a second pairing defenseman before Keith was out, so he manages the extra pressure well.

Now, as the postseason approaches, Oduya's experience makes him a valuable player on a team with so much young blood. Between his time in the Swedish Elite League and the NHL, Oduya has skated in the playoffs every year for the past eight seasons.

In a season with so many highs and lows, it's easy to look back and see which decisions were good and which were misguided. Oduya was one of those understated decisions made in the midst of high-pressure from all sides that had overwhelmingly positive results. It's the kind of decision that renews your faith in the coaching staff and scouts, and gives you a little more hope that the Hawks could go all the way again.

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