WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets traded defenceman Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks for two draft picks.
He’s in the final year of a contract that carries a US$3.5-million cap hit and is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Chicago was anxious to add depth to its blue-line and sent a second- and third-round pick in 2013 to the Jets.
Oduya joins his fourth NHL team. He was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010 by the New Jersey Devils before making the move to Winnipeg.
The 30-year-old was surrounded by reporters the morning skate on Monday. Oduya’s name had cropped up most frequently when talking about possible trades Winnipeg might make.
After the trade was confirmed, he told TSN it was exciting to go to Chcago but he was going to miss the energy and enthusiasm of the Winnipeg fans.
“You’re excited and a little bit let down at the same time,” he said.
Oduya has scored two goals and has 13 points for the Jets this season and was sitting with a minus-9 rating. He spent four seasons with the New Jersey Devils before joining Atlanta.
The Jets filled the hole left by Oduya’s departure before if was officially there, claiming defenceman Grant Clitsome off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day.
The 26-year-old carries a US$1.25-million cap hit through next season.
In 51 games with the Blue Jackets this year, Clitsome had four goals, 14 points and a minus-6 rating. A ninth-round draft pick by Columbus in 2004, Clitsome is looking forward to joining the Jets.
“It’ll be different for me,” he said. “I’ve never had that experience throughout my whole career. It’ll be a learning experience and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m excited. They’re in a playoff push and they’ve got a great team. It’s going to be exciting times.”
Jets coach Claude Noel remembers Clitsome from when he was an assistant coach in Columbus and took over as interim head coach during the 2009-10 season.
“I liked what he brought to the table,” Noel said. “I didn’t have him for a long time but I liked him. He was a smart player. I thought he shoots the puck real well. He’s got good hockey intelligence.”
Noel said he wasn’t expecting Clitsome to dress for Monday night’s game against Edmonton in Winnipeg.
“It’s a good thing for everybody,” Oduya said of the deal.
He had yet to talk to any of his now former teammates.
“Hopefully some of the guys will be sad to see me go but you never know,” he said.