Johnny Oduya is headed to the Eastern Conference.
The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract could be worth up to $1.25 million with incentives.
Oduya, who the Blackhawks re-acquired prior to the trade deadline last season from the Dallas Stars, finished with two goals and seven assists in 52 games between the two teams.
It comes to no one's surprise that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign the veteran defenseman.
After being swept in the first round of the playoffs last season by the Nashville Predators, Stan Bowman has made it clear the Blackhawks are headed in a different direction, and their offseason has been plenty of busy so far. Headline deals included trading Oduya's linemate Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for 24-year-old defenseman Connor Murphy and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artemi Panarin.
Oduya heads to a Senators team which got ousted in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On July 10, 2015 Patrick Sharp was another one of the Blackhawks’ salary-cap casualties. Now he’s the latest former player brought back into the fold.
Sharp’s return became official on Saturday morning, as the NHL free agency period began. He signs a one-year deal for a reported $1 million (per Bob McKenzie, $800,000 base salary and $200,000 in bonuses), a sizeable pay cut from the $5 million he earned last season.
It’s another instance in which the Blackhawks are bringing back a player who was a big part of their Stanley Cup-winning years. Brandon Saad was reacquired last week from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brian Campbell (offseason) and Johnny Oduya (trade deadline) were back last season.
Sharp is coming off a tough season with the Dallas Stars, especially with injuries. A concussion he sustained early last season sidelined him twice, and a hip injury prevented him from being a potential trade target last February. Sharp underwent hip surgery in March; the expected recovery time was 4-5 months.
Money-wise, the deal is a friendly one for a team with little to spend. The Blackhawks began Saturday nearly $3 million over the $75 million salary cap set for the 2017-18 season. A team can go 10 percent over the cap during the summer but has to be at or under the cap the day the season starts.
After drawing interest from multiple NHL teams, Czech defenseman Jan Rutta has decided to sign with the Blackhawks, the team announced Wednesday. It's a one-year entry-level contract.
“Jan has been on our radar for a number of years and he has shown great progress on the ice during that time,” GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. “His addition to the organization makes our defense more dynamic and he has shown he can contribute offensively as well.”
The 26-year-old blue liner has spent the last four seasons playing for the Pirati Chomutov in the Czech Extraliga, where he was teammates with recently-signed Czech forward David Kampf.
Rutta ranked second in the league with 34 points, racking up eight goals and 24 assists in 46 regular-season games during the 2016-17 campaign. He also tallied two goals and 11 assists in 17 playoff contests.
Rutta scored one goal in eight games during the IIHF World Championships with the Czech Republic, sharing a blue line with current Blackhawks defenseman Michal Kempny.
With Brian Campbell (38) and Johnny Oduya (35) set to hit unrestricted free agency on July 1, and the possibility of losing Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft or via trade, the Blackhawks could use some fresh blood on the back end.
At 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, Rutta has a right-handed shot and is known to be an offensive defenseman. He turns 27 in July, and gives the Blackhawks an option to hop into the lineup right away.