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Chicago Blackhawks Rumors: Oduya Staying, Seabrook Going

By Colin Likas
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Plenty of rumors surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks of late have revolved around forward Patrick Sharp, who may or may not be moved by General Manager Stan Bowman by the time the 2015-16 season starts. Bowman still has plenty of moves to make, with players like Marcus Kruger remaining unsigned and the Blackhawks currently above the $71.4 million salary cap.

Could two of his moves involve a pair of defensemen, Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook? A pair of new rumors suggests that is possible.

Oduya is an unrestricted free agent who is waiting for the Blackhawks to clear cap space in hopes of re-signing with the club. We haven’t been sure who Oduya has said “No” to during his wait, but now we have at least one answer. According to CBS Sports’ and Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland, Oduya “turned down (a) significant offer” from the Buffalo Sabres while waiting for Bowman and the Blackhawks to clear space.

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Buffalo has made many moves this offseason in an effort to get back in playoff contention, including the additions of Ryan O’Reilly and David Legwand and the drafting of Jack Eichel. They currently have seven defensemen counting against the salary cap for 2015-16, according to Hockey Buzz. But Oduya would be a step up over nearly all of them, with Zach Bogosian probably being the exception. The Sabres currently have just $55 million and change against the salary cap for next season, so inking Oduya would be entirely possible.

But Oduya likely doesn’t want to walk into an uncertain situation. Buffalo should post more than the league-worst 54 points it managed last season, but there’s no guarantee the Sabres are a playoff team. Of course, there’s no guarantee the Blackhawks will make the playoffs either, but the chances are better for that than for a Buffalo playoff appearance in 2015-16.

Oduya can’t wait forever, but Bowman should appreciate the defenseman’s patience and loyalty. Hopefully he’s able to reward it.

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  • The other latest rumor is somewhat out of left field and involves Seabrook. The Hockey Press has reported the Blackhawks may look to move Seabrook this offseason, though it’s “not likely.” Seabrook currently has the fourth-largest cap hit by year for the 2015-16 Blackhawks, and he’s due for a new contract after next season. He’s due to cost $5.8 million against the cap this upcoming season.

    This would be an alternative to moving Sharp, as the two have very similar cap hits (Sharp’s is $5.9 million). And there are likely many teams that would be willing to take on Seabrook, a vital cog in all three of Chicago’s Stanley Cups in the salary-cap era. But while the Blackhawks have been making moves to bring in new forwards that can replace any who are moved, they’ve been trading young defensemen. The main takeaway from this is, there’s not an immediate replacement for Seabrook should he be moved.

    Seabrook’s leadership in the locker room often goes under the radar, especially compared to the leadership captain Jonathan Toews displays. Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus detailed Seabrook’s off-ice impact in a story right before the Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2015 Stanley Cup.

    This doesn’t even take into consideration what Seabrook offers on the ice, logging heavy minutes and taking assignments with young or aging defensemen. Seabrook averaged 22 minutes, 11 seconds of ice time and tallied 31 points last regular season, then played an average of 26 minutes, 17 seconds while posting 11 points in the most-recent playoffs.

    Simply, getting rid of Seabrook to get under the salary cap would be a large mistake. It would leave the Blackhawks in far worse shape than if Sharp was moved. But rumors are just that, and we shouldn’t expect Seabrook to be in another sweater next season.

    Next: Sharp To Florida Again Trending

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