DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Stars used a trade to pick up one Stanley Cup-winning piece from the Chicago Blackhawks. Now they’ve grabbed another in free agency.
Dallas signed defenseman Johnny Oduya to a two-year, $7.5 million contract Wednesday, less than a week after trading for veteran forward Patrick Sharp, who won three championships in Chicago.
”To win, you’ve got to know how to win and that’s a process,” said third-year Stars general manager Jim Nill, whose club has missed the playoffs six of the past seven seasons. ”These guys have been doing it all the time. Our core is young. And I know they’re going to be like sponges. They’re going to feed off this.”
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The 33-year-old Oduya gives Dallas a nine-year veteran to go with a promising young group at the blue line. The most notable is 22-year-old John Klingberg, a fellow Swede who is coming off a standout rookie season. Dallas has another young Swede on defense in Patrik Nemeth, one of Oduya’s workout partners.
Nill said the need for adding Oduya rose when the Stars sent Trevor Daley to the Blackhawks in the four-player trade that landed Sharp.
”If I’m not wrong, I think I’m the oldest one back there now,” said Oduya, who will be joined in the 30-something crowd by Alex Goligoski later this month. ”Obviously I have to worry about what I’ve got to do to perform and help the team as much as possible. But also I’m trying to be there whatever the little things that I picked up through the years.”
Oduya scored 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 76 games for the Blackhawks last season and had five assists in the playoffs. He was third on the team with 123 blocked shots, and had another 63 in the postseason.
A seventh-round pick by Washington in 2001, Oduya started his career with New Jersey before stints with Atlanta and Winnipeg. He joined the Blackhawks during the 2011-12 season and won two Stanley Cup titles with them. Oduya has 152 points (31 goals, 121 assists) in 644 career games, and has appeared in 89 playoff games.
”I’ve known him ever since my scouting days in Detroit, back when he was 17, 18 years of age,” Nill said. ”He represents himself right. And that’s what we’re trying to build here. We’re trying to get to where Chicago is.”
Nill said the signing of Oduya mostly completes a second straight promising offseason for the Stars. But they couldn’t carry it into the regular season last year, starting slowly and eventually falling far enough out of playoff contention that a late-season surge wasn’t enough.
Offense wasn’t the problem for the Stars, who have NHL scoring champion Jamie Benn and another high-scoring young star in Tyler Seguin. The defense was inconsistent along with goaltending, another area Dallas addressed by signing Antti Niemi to play alongside Kari Lehtonen after San Jose essentially dumped its former starter.
”It could be just a matter of one or two players maybe maturing a little bit more, taking that extra step and kind of break through that barrier,” Oduya said. ”I think all parts look good. I see it as good of a chance as any team has.”
Oduya is a two-time Olympian (2010, 2014) and also competed in the 2009 world championships.