Johnny Oduya expected to play Thursday vs. Ducks

Niklas Hjalmarsson, too.

Johnny Oduya is expected to make his returning debut for the Blackhawks when they face the Ducks on Thursday. Coach Joel Quenneville provided the update following practice on Wednesday, adding that Niklas Hjalmarsson is expected to return from injury for the game as well.

That’s great news for the Blackhawks, who will rolling with their full group of defensemen for the first time since Oduya was acquired on Feb. 28. They’ve weathered the storm recently with Michal Rozsival and Michal Kempny playing, but this shake up will likely bump them from the lineup.

Oduya and Hjalmarsson are being reunited on the second pairing, which allows the Hawks to keep Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook together as the top duo. Keith and Seabrook haven’t been great lately side by side, but the hope is that this will be the stable top four for the team through the rest of the season.

Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk will be on the third pairing, with Kempny and Rozsival sitting in the press box for now. There’s no longer any active roster limit following the trade deadline, so the Blackhawks can continue to roll with eight defensemen if they want.