Think back to the days in recent Chicago Blackhawks history when the team seemed to struggle with solid defensive pairings that didn’t involve Duncan Keith. That was about a year and a half ago. Enter Johnny Oduya at the 2012 trade deadline. The Blackhawks have since played 66 regular season games, earning at least a point in 57 of them. So, maybe it wasn’t all Oduya’s doing, but it’s a pretty neat stat.
The success between Oduya and the Blackhawks is a two-way relationship: being paired with solid defense partners like Niklas Hjalmarsson gives Oduya freedom to move the puck, and his reliability offers moral support to the team. That’s what it seemed like at first anyway. Since the start of the 48-game season, Oduya has become more than moral support or a confidence booster. He’s part of refining a team known for its great offense into one of the best defensive teams in the league. And he’s a Stanley Cup Champion. And he has a fun name. You know a game is going well when you hear Ed Olczyk, Pat Foley, or Doc Emrick give a bad “Oh, do ya” pun.
Oduya’s final grade for last season recaps his stats for 2013, his contract status with the Blackhawks, and how good we are at our over/under predictions.
Our prediction for Oduya next season is set at 4 goals, 16 assists, and a plus 15. Are you taking the over or under?