Last week, Pierre Dorion hinted that he wasn’t necessarily done with signing players but was in the “checkout lane”. It’s probably safe to say that this was the deal he was waiting for.
This morning, the Ottawa Senators announced that they’ve signed veteran Swedish defenceman Johnny Oduya to a 1-year, $1M deal with the possibility of an additional possibility of $1.25M added as performance bonuses.
The five $250K bonuses: top 5 in TOI for d-men, top 3 for TOI for d-men, play in 41 games, play in 65 games and qualify for the playoffs.— Sens communications (@Media_Sens) July 24, 2017
The 35yo Oduya has played 798 regular season games with an additional 106 playoff games, and is known for being a part of the Chicago squad that won the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.
After playing alongside Niklas Hjalmarsson on Chicago’s second-pair in 2015, Oduya’s play as dwindled to that of a borderline second-pair player, and he was moved into a third-pair role last season as he split his 52 regular season games between Dallas and Chicago, putting up 11 points.
Opinion time: Oduya’s low salary and signing bonuses based on games played suggests that the Senators don’t see Oduya as a Marc Methot replacement, although he certainly adds certainty to the Senators blueline — something GM Pierre Dorion and Head Coach Guy Boucher might have felt that they needed. Taken together with Dorion’s comments on Thomas Chabot being NHL-ready and Ben Harpur’s NHL games last year, we’re in for quite a fight for playing time where only the ice-time of Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, and Dion Phaneuf are certain.
Just going by players who are on one-way deals, the Senators now have: Claesson, Phaneuf, Oduya, and Borowiecki on the left-side, and Karlsson, Ceci, Wideman on the right-side. Those seven are your ‘contract bets’ to be with the big club when the regular season starts, pushing Thomas Chabot and Ben Harpur to start the year with the Belleville Senators in the AHL. With Borowiecki, Oduya, Claesson, and Wideman all making under $1.1M, I don’t think the Senators would be opposed to having two sit in the press box if Chabot does light up the AHL, but they’re clearly going to make him prove it. Perhaps, they’ve learnt the lesson of handing Cody Ceci an NHL spot too soon, and don’t want to make that mistake again. Perhaps.
With rumours swirling around Sens defencemen since the expansion draft and two months until the regular season starts, there’s still a possibility for some of this newfound depth to be parlayed into a bigger asset. Interesting times ahead in Sens land.