I owe you two of these today, so let's get started. While a great deal of Hawks Nation clamored for a major splash at the deadline, one that was almost certainly not available, Stan Bowman for the second straight season opted for something stable and relatively easy. And for the second straight year, a competent, calming influence on the blue line was acquired that improved things. And for the second straight year, that acquisition did something awful in the playoffs that helped the Hawks toward the exit door. At least it's consistent, no?Johnny Oduya's Stats: 81GP 3G 15A 18P -6 33PIM (1G 4A +3 with the Hawks) -.22 Behind The Net Rating, .019 Quality of Competition
The Good: After a pretty rough first period as a Hawk against Toronto until the end of the season, Oduya was everything Hawks fans wanted on their second pairing. Was he spectacular? No. But he was steady, and that's exactly what the Hawks and more specifically Nick Leddy were clamoring for. His ability to skate himself out of trouble and pick out a smart first pass, providing an outlet for Leddy to escape trouble, and the actual desire to not run from being hit to make a play were greatly welcome. He even helped the penalty kill somewhat, by not running around and usually in a lane to block a shot. Didn't panic on clearing attempts either, which is an affliction a lot of the Hawks on the kill came down with. And hey, that one goal against Henrik Lundqvist made him a fixture on the power play....for some reason.
The Bad: Most of this category would cover Oduya's playoff performance. It was foreshadowed in the two games he played against the Predators in March, where their voracious forecheck at times swallowed Oduya and Leddy whole. It only got worse in the playoffs. Oduya's pretty normal size saw him losing a lot of battles behind his net, and he simply couldn't deal with having no time whatsoever in his own end. Pretty much encapsulated in Game 4 when Shane Doan chased him down from behind and stripped him to set up a chance that he would convert on the rebound. It didn't get much better from there. Once Oduya's game went in the crapper, so did Nick Leddy's. Leddy eventually was moved away from Oduya for the last two or three games, and Leddy was able to attack more when Oduya wasn't coughing up the puck.
Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent
Stick Around or Hit The Bricks: Tough call here. A lot of it is going to depend on what Oduya is asking for and what Stan Bowman wants to do. Oduya's regular season performance would suggest he should be brought back as a placeholder until Dylan Olsen is ready to take on second pairing minutes. However, his playoff performance will give one pause, because to get out of the West you're not going to avoid teams like Nashville, Phoenix, LA, or St. Louis that rely on a being hellbent for leather on the forecheck. Oduya's getting older, so he'll be inexpensive, but he probably won't be getting any better. Judging from the Ryan Suter Rush buzz, it feels like Stan is eying bigger game for his second pairing, even though he'll never get Suter. Oduya would be solid in the season if Stan strikes out elsewhere. Depending on the number he comes in at, it wouldn't be the worst outcome in the world if he were back for another year, holding down a spot for Olsen and then shoring up the third pair with Montador after that. But I don't see that happening.