Before last night’s game, Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the team would know more about the injury to defenseman Johnny Oduya’s ankle after he was evaluated by team doctors.
Well consider that question answered.
The Stars recalled rookie defenseman Julius Honka from the Texas Stars in the AHL today and put Oduya on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 17, when he missed the second half of the game against the New York Rangers after apparently getting tangled up with Rick Nash around the Dallas net.
The move means Oduya will be unavailable until at least Jan. 24, but the more interesting thing for most Stars fans is the return of Honka, whose high-octane style seemed to transition very well to the NHL in his first eight games earlier this season. He had three assists over that time frame, andhis skating ability, outlet-pass vision and general fearlessness with the puck were a welcome addition to a Stars defense that has, at times, looked extremely stagnant.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, the 21-year-old was a 1st round pick in the 2014 draft. He leads the Texas defense with 21 points (16 assists) in 30 games.
From a replacement perspective, the biggest question is the struggling penalty kill, where Oduya ranked second on the team in minutes per game. That is not a role they likely expect Honka to fill, so someone else is going to have to take on those minutes.
Here is the official release from the team:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Julius Honka from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League. The team has also placed defenseman Johnny Oduya on Injured Reserve, retroactive to Jan. 17.
Honka, 21, has registered 21 points (5-16=21) in 30 games with Texas this season. He shares second on the club in assists (16) and ranks fourth on the club in points (21). Among team defenseman, he leads all blueliners in points, goals and assists. Honka has skated in eight games for Dallas this season, recording three assists (0-3=3) and made his NHL debut on Nov. 21 vs. Minnesota, registering an assist (0-1=1) in his first career NHL contest.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound native of Jyvaskyla, Finland was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (14th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
Oduya, 35, ranks second on Dallas this season in blocked shots (80) and shorthanded TOI/G (2:33). The defenseman has skated in 36 games during the 2016-17 campaign and has registered seven points (1-6=7).
The 6-foot, 195-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 15, 2015.