Blackhawks

Stan Bowman: Price was right for Blackhawks to reacquire Johnny Oduya

Stan Bowman: Price was right for Blackhawks to reacquire Johnny Oduya

For general manager Stan Bowman, bringing back Johnny Oduya had been a possibility for some time. Getting him at the right price made it a reality.

Oduya, who arrived in Chicago on Wednesday but didn't play against the Pittsburgh Penguins that night, was acquired from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and Mark McNeill. The Blackhawks wanted to hang on to some of their prime assets, including draft picks for this summer's draft, which they host. But over the last few days each side got what it wanted.

"There comes a point when you have to keep your top assets, which I would say are your first- and second-round picks, as well as top prospects. When you have other discussions, those are the names that always come up and those are the assets they're asking for, and we weren't prepared to do that," Bowman said. "This was a price we're comfortable with. It allows us to maintain a lot of our prime assets going forward."

The familiarity Oduya has with the Blackhawks was certainly a selling point. But Bowman said it went beyond that, from Oduya's fitness level to previous work with Niklas Hjalmarsson to he's strength on special teams.

"In Johnny's case, he's still playing at a high level. He's always been incredible fitness level so he takes care of himself, trains hard, so that's the one thing we thought of," Bowman said. "The one element he may help us the most is the penalty kill, having another defenseman you can use. It can be problematic sometimes when one of your top defensemen takes a penalty and you're looking for guys you have that confidence in. Johnny's really strong in that area."

Coach Joel Quenneville said earlier today that they'll give Oduya, who's coming off an ankle injury, all the time he needs to get back to normal. Bowman said that had more to do with Oduya getting back to game pace than anything.

"He's played, so he's certainly not injured still," Bowman said, referring to Oduya's game on Sunday, his last with the Stars. "How sharp he is, that's the one thing. When you're out for a bit, it may take longer to get up to speed with the pace we want to play at. He may need a few more practices. We'll have a better sense of that [Thursday]."

Bowman said he wasn't really close to doing anything else. He reiterated what he said on Friday following the Tomas Jurco trade, that he was happy with how the forward lines have fallen into form and how the progress of young guys like Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero has continued.

Now for the slightly tweaked Blackhawks to see if the right price they paid leads to the right results come spring.

"I really liked the team we had here, even before we were able to add Johnny to the mix. Certainly when we have him now it gives our team that full complement of experience, depth and especially on the defensive side," Bowman said. "Up front, you see the progression of a lot of our younger players. They've come a long way in the last couple of months to being difference makers on our team. So I like the way the group is looking from top to bottom."

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

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USA Today

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

In the month of October, no team scored fewer goals than the Blackhawks (25). Since the calendar flipped to November, no team has scored more goals than the Blackhawks (38).

Oh, how things can change in a month.

But the interesting part about the offensive turnaround is the fact the Blackhawks are doing it without having much power play success.

The Blackhawks have had 65 power-play opportunities this season and have converted on only nine of those attempts. That's a 13.8 percent success rate, which ranks 28th in the NHL.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton changed things up at the beginning of the month by dividing the units to spread the wealth rather than overload the first unit, the latter of which worked so well from December and on last season. 

It's time to go back to overloading the first unit.

Erik Gustafsson, who has three goals in his last four games, is finally looking like himself again after a 16-game goal drought to start the season. Patrick Kane is on a 10-game point streak. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome have combined for 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in the last 10 games. And Jonathan Toews has nine points (three goals, six assists) in November after having only two points (one goal, one assist) in October.

There's a newfound confidence within the group, especially the top players, and reuniting the five of them could translate into power play success. 

And while we're on the subject: It's also time to put Kirby Dach on one of the two power play units.

He has seven points in a five-game point streak and four goals during that span. He's noticeably getting more and more comfortable each game and it's reached the point where giving him more responsibility wouldn't be overwhelming for the 18-year-old, who's ready for more ice time.

The Blackhawks' power play is the one area of their game that hasn't been consistent this season. If they can get it back to the level it was at during the second half of last season, it's scary to think what the ceiling of this team could be because it doesn't look like their 5-on-5 game or elite goaltending will drop off anytime soon.

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Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

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USA Today

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

The Blackhawks have acquired forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Graham Knott in a minor league trade. Cramarossa will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 27-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this AHL season. Cramarossa was the alternate captain during the 2018-19 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playing 56 regular-season games, scoring four goals.

Cramarossa was initially drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft, making his NHL debut on the Ducks in 2016. He played with the Ducks until he was traded to the Vancouver in 2017, playing in 10 games for the Canucks. He signed with Calgary as a free agent in September 2017 before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2018. Throughout seven seasons in the AHL (2013-2019) playing for the Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Stockton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cramarossa recorded 72 points (32G, 40A) in 294 regular-season games.

Graham Knott is a 22-year-old forward selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft. Knott had eight goals in 126 career games with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks have now traded their top draft selections from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Only Dach (2019), Boqvist (2018) and DeBrincat (2016) remain from this decade.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.