Chicago Blackhawks: Goodbye Oduya, Richards, Vermette

By Colin Likas

Yesterday was July 1, meaning most NHL free agents with value were inked to a deal by the end of the day. According to SportsNet’s free agency broadcast Wednesday morning, 94 players were signed on July 1, 2014 alone. The day was pretty wild, with Phil Kessel’s move to Pittsburgh highlighting the moves made.

For the Chicago Blackhawks, it was a day of saying goodbye to guys who have won one or two Cups with the organization. The ’Hawks are currently sitting at $70 million against the salary cap, which is (unfortunately) still $71.4 million. Therefore, the ’Hawks will need to forego resigning some players who had important roles in at least one championship.

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We’re specifically going to look at the unrestricted free agents in this post, meaning Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom (who should both be resigned soon) will not be discussed here. Going in order of “definitely gone” to “could come back,” let’s take this opportunity to say goodbye to…

Antoine Vermette

Regular season: 19 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, minus-2 rating

Playoffs: 20 games, 4 goals, 3 assists, plus-5 rating, 3 game-winning goals

Part of: 2015 championship

Goodbye, Vermette. He was resigned by the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday, making his time with the Blackhawks a true rental period. He looked like a bust of a rental during his brief regular-season run in Chicago. But after being scratched in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against Anaheim, Vermette potted three game-winning goals between the last four games against the Ducks and the six Stanley Cup Finals games against Tampa Bay. He won many faceoffs and helped create a formidable third line late in the playoffs with Teuvo Teravainen and Kris Versteeg. The ’Hawks might not have won this Cup without Vermette. So we say goodbye to him with fond memories.

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  • Brad Richards

    Regular season: 76 games, 12 goals, 25 assists, plus-3 rating

    Playoffs: 23 games, 3 goals, 11 assists, plus-4 rating

    Part of: 2015 championship

    Goodbye, Richards. He too was signed Wednesday, inking a 1-year, $3 million contract with Detroit to not play under Mike Babcock. He wasn’t always able to keep up with linemate Patrick Kane — or really anyone else he was put on a line with — but Richards proved his usefulness time and again. He won enough faceoffs to be useful at the dot and was generally defensively responsible. What we might remember Richards most for is him stepping up to the plate once the Stanley Cup playoffs rolled around. He was seemingly revitalized, finishing among the team leaders in points with 14. He was a thrifty free-agent pickup by Bowman on a one-year, $2 million deal, though he ultimately wasn’t the answer to the everlasting No. 2 center question the Blackhawks have. Richards was another guy who was brought in with the goal of winning, and that’s exactly what he did.

    Daniel Carcillo

    Regular season: 39 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, plus-3 rating

    Playoffs: Didn’t play

    Part of: 2013 and 2015 championships

    Goodbye, Carcillo. His resigning before the 2014-15 season was confusing, especially after Stan Bowman had recently shed the awful Brandon Bollig deal. Carcillo didn’t do much, getting scratched and injured throughout the season. But Carcillo did do something this season to make himself more valuable in the future. He starred in a short clip talking about head injuries in the NHL, specifically focusing on late friend and former teammate Steve Montador. Carcillo doesn’t have a ton to offer a team on the ice at this point, but it would be great if he could find a home in NHL upper management, similar to Chris Pronger. Of course, Gary Bettman has denied head trauma is caused by injuries sustained in NHL rinks, but we can only hope Carcillo’s video leads to bigger and better things — for Carcillo himself, and for the league.

    Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) defends the goal against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) during the third period of game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    Johnny Oduya

    Regular season: 76 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, plus-5 rating

    Playoffs: 23 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, mius-4 rating

    Part of: 2013 and 2015 championships

    Goodbye, Oduya. Your name is extremely fun to say, but there’s much more to the defenseman than that. Oduya was picked up during the 2011-12 season, and he became a major component of the Chicago blue line. He frequently skated alongside fellow Swede Niklas Hjalmarsson and was asked to be a shutdown defenseman. Oduya got himself in front of pucks and kept clean the area around Corey Crawford and the ’Hawks backup goaltenders. It’s somewhat tough to say a lot about Oduya during his goodbye, because he was a solid player who didn’t always show up on the scoresheet. Oduya did his job and stepped up whenever needed. He was a crucial part of the Blackhawks defense during the 2013 and 2015 Cup runs, providing stability when the back end of the blue line was seemingly falling apart.

    Apr 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) is chased by Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro (63) during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    Michal Rozsival

    Regular season: 65 games, 1 goal, 12 assists, 0 rating

    Playoffs: 10 games, 0 goal, 1 assist, plus-1 rating

    Part of: 2013 and 2015 championships

    Goodbye, Rozsival. You took a lot of angry words from Blackhawks fans (not that you heard most of them). Sometimes they were deserved, sometimes they weren’t. Rozsival might be remembered as being really slow, but he did contribute a decent veteran presence on the back of the Blackhawks blue line for two Cup runs. With the Blackhawks looking for a veteran presence to shore up the back end of the blue line once more for 2015-16, and an older player to mentor the younger defensemen coming through the system, Rozsival may end up being the guy, especially now that Barret Jackman is off the table. Rozsival was actually, like Richards, looking revitalized in these playoffs before his ankle gave way at the end of the Western Conference semifinal series against Minnesota. Rozsival has made it known he’d like to come back, but there may not be room.

    Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Desjardins (11) holds the Stanley Cup up during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

    Andrew Desjardins

    Regular season (with Chicago): 13 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, plus-1 rating

    Playoffs: 21 games, 1 goals, 3 assists, minus-4 rating

    Part of: 2015 championship

    Goodbye, Desjardins. Like Vermette, Desjardins looked like a bust of a pickup for the Blackhawks, the forgotten trade with San Jose in exchange for Ben Smith. He wasn’t even in the starting lineup when Chicago started its run to the Cup against Nashville. But his insertion midway through the series sparked a defensive line that dominated the top lines in later series, especially the Ryan Getzlaf line in Anaheim. Desjardins, Kruger and Andrew Shaw were a force to be reckoned with, providing no passing lanes, a furious forecheck and desire to crash the opposing net and get dirty goals. Desjardins found his niche and made sure he wasn’t a forgotten trade piece. With the Blackhawks acquiring several forwards in the Brandon Saad deal, along with the recent signing of Viktor Tikhonov, there may not be a place for Desjardins on next year’s team. But there’s always a shot.

    Next: Blackhawks Sign Viktor Tikhonov

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