(CBS) The Dallas Stars are pursuing free agent defenseman Johnny Oduya, who’s expected to make a decision soon, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.
Oduya, 33, has spent the past three years in Chicago as a top-four defenseman, helping the Blackhawks win two Stanley Cups in that stretch. It’s no secret that his preference is to remain in Chicago, but the Blackhawks are still facing a salary cap crunch in trying to get under the hard number of $71.4 million. The Blackhawks traded accomplished winger Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million cap hit to the Stars in a four-player deal last Friday, but they haven’t been able to find a taker for winger Bryan Bickell on the trade market. He carries a $4.0 million cap hit for next season.
Without moving Bickell or someone else, Chicago will likely have to let Oduya walk. He’s been patiently waiting to make a decision as Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has tried to clear more cap space.
Oduya’s been a reliable defender for Chicago, playing in 201 of a possible 212 regular-season games over the last three years.
Signing in Dallas would allow Oduya to reunite with some old teammates. In addition to acquiring Sharp and young defenseman Stephen Johns in the deal last Friday, the Stars also signed former Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi.
The Sabres and Bruins are also reportedly showing interest in Oduya.