Johnny Oduya is probably a perfect fit for what the Flyers need in a veteran defenseman right now.
Oduya, who was claimed off waivers from Ottawa on Monday, went through his first full practice on Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. and it’s clear he offers a multitude of assets.
The 36-year-old Swede played for two Stanley Cup championship teams in Chicago, so he brings the experience of being a winner into the Flyers locker room.
He knows he’s on the down side of his career, so he’s not going to be trying to push younger players aside to break into the lineup.
And he adds depth and insurance in case a defenseman goes down in the next couple months, including the playoffs.
So what’s not to like?
Oduya welcomed the opportunity to go from a non-playoff team in Ottawa to a playoff contender in Philadelphia.
“I think basically the opportunity to go someplace else – after a couple tougher months in Ottawa for everybody, obviously the performance wasn’t something we looked at as really fun or good enough.
“With that in mind, being an older player, given the opportunity to go somewhere and once again be part of a good team, you would see that as a positive thing.
Oduya was a draft pick of the Washington Capitals way back in 2001.
Since then, he’s played for New Jersey, the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg, Chicago, Dallas and Ottawa.
So he knows a little bit about trying to “fit in’’ quickly.
“I’m really happy to be here and want to be a part of the group as soon as possible,’’ Oduya said. “Whatever I can bring, that’s what I’m going to try to do.’’
He’s played against the Flyers and he’s been impressed.
“Young, speedy group,’’ he said. “The one part would be experience and you won’t get that unless you play. I’m prepared to go all out.’’
There’s a chance Oduya might see his first action with the Flyers this weekend, either in Tampa on Saturday or Florida on Sunday.
Coach Dave Hakstol usually makes changes to his lineup after losses and since the Flyers watched a 10-0-2 streak end with a 4-1 loss to Carolina on Thursday night, anything is possible.
“It’s the coach’s decision,’’ Oduya said. “We’ll see what happens.’’
Observers note Oduya has played some good hockey over the past month, even with the Senators struggling so badly.
“I think the last month has been more on par with the way I can perform, still think I can do,’’ he said. “That said, I don’t know if the trade deadline was something to do with that.
“Sometimes as an older player, you get more comfortable as the season prolongs, especially on new teams. I’ve seen a lot of new faces the last couple years. Sometimes it takes a little time to get into the groove. You can’t predict how it’s going to fit. The only thing you can do is prepare, be open, be yourself and everything else is going to fall in place.’’
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