Source: Johnny Oduya to explore free agency

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Johnny Oduya does not plan to wait to see whether the Chicago Blackhawks can afford to re-sign him and will explore free agency, according to a source.

Oduya, a 33-year-old defenseman, spent the last 3 ½ seasons with the Blackhawks and was part of two Stanley Championship teams. He had nine goals, 34 assists, was a plus-31 and averaged 20:37 of ice time in 219 regular-season games for the Blackhawks. He also played in 71 playoff games for the Blackhawks.

Oduya has already been contacted by “several” teams prior to free agency, which begins Wednesday, according to the source. He signed a three-year, $10.125 million contract extension with the Blackhawks after the 2011-12 season.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Saturday he was unsure whether he would be able to re-sign Oduya.

“Sort of the same thing as [Brad] Richards in the sense of we’re not really at a point yet where we know what we would be offering or what we’d be capable of offering,” Bowman said at the NHL draft. “And the other side is you don’t know what they’re looking for. We’ll just keep working at it and we’ll see.”

The Blackhawks have about $65 million committed to 14 players for next season. Bowman said he plans to re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger. Bowman is expected to trade a few current players to re-sign Saad and Kruger and complete a cap-compliant roster. The salary-cap upper limit for next season is $71.4 million.