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Dallas Stars Trade Johnny Oduya to Chicago Blackhawks for Mark McNeill, Conditional 4th Round Pick

Well, the Stars got something for Oduya after all.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Well, after Oduya to Dallas being such an eventuality almost two years ago, it was an equally unavoidable result to see him head back to Chicago. The Stars on Tuesday are reported to have traded Johnny Oduya back to the Blackhawks in exchange for Mark McNeill and a conditional 4th-round draft pick.

The upside for Dallas? They unloaded an aging, injury-battling UFA for a pick and prospect, if Mark McNeill can be so considered. He’s 24 years old, and he plays center with a right shot (so ask your coach if that might really mean he’s a right wing). The Stars also got another 4th-round pick (which can become a third-rounder if Chicago goes deep in the playoffs). Those Round Fours seem to be the pick to get, these days, for Jim Nill, and considering that Oduya was never a certainty to be healthy by the deadline, anything is gravy.

The downside for Dallas? They got a low pick and a borderline bust of a prospect who passed through waivers this year (imagine that) for a veteran who was supposed to get the Stars into the Cup Final during his bargain-priced two-year stint in Dallas.

Here’s where McNeill stood at the beginning of the season per Second City Hockey:

Drafted with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, McNeill found himself clearing waivers five years later. Not only was McNeill unable to earn a spot on the Hawks’ roster out of training camp, but his stock has dipped to the point that the other 29 teams weren’t interested in taking a flier with practically zero risk.

That’s where McNeill is at — on the fringe, passed over once again, this time in favor of younger, less experienced players like Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte, Vincent Hinostroza and Ryan Hartman. The problem for McNeill, though, is that it’s been hard to argue he’s better than any of them. His case for making the team was almost always based on the possibility of losing him on waivers, which clearly wasn’t a major concern in the end.

It’s hard to say where McNeill’s career goes from here. He might’ve deserved a shot this fall, but as we’ve learned many times, the Hawks aren’t here to exhibit patience. McNeill never showed that he’d be able to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Chicago has never figured out a role for him.

Oduya, of course, played 119 games for Dallas over two years with 5 goals, 23 assists and a plus-six rating. He averaged 19:42 per game and had decent, though not spectacular, possession metrics in very tough zone starts. In all, he took tougher minutes and had better possession numbers than his initial stint in the Blackhawks organization.

Oduya will now return to Chicago, who have been perpetually in need of reliable defensemen behind Hjalmarsson and Keith and Seabrook since forever. Dallas will have something to show for him, but it’s hard not to think about how different the return is than what Jim Nill surely hoped Oduya could bring to this town back when he signed him.

The guess is that Chicago was willing to give up an expendable player as well as the pick for the sake of Oduya’s name value.

Also, how’s this for perspective: Stars fans might now be rooting for a Chicago-Anaheim Western Conference Final, given the conditional picks in the Eaves and Oduya trades.