The Chicago Blackhawks continue to be busy this offseason as they have just announced a contract extension with defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. The five year extension will now keep Hjalmarsson in Chicago through the 2018-2019 season. According to sources, Hjalmarsson is set to make an average of $4.1 million per season in his new deal. He was entering into the last year of a deal where he was making up to $3.5 million. With a five year contract extension at a small pay raise, the Blackhawks not only lock up a valuable piece, but also don`t hurt the cap while doing so. Hjalmarsson was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-2014 season.
Hjalmarsson, 26, was selected in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. He made his debut with the team in 2007, playing only 13 games. Over the past four years, Hjalmarsson has turned into one of the best defenseman on the Blackhawks roster. Although he doesn't put up a lot of points, he plays good defensive hockey and protects goaltender Corey Crawford. Hjalmarrson has played a big role in the Blackhawks two Stanley Cup wins.
Hjalmarrson had two goals and eight assists in 46 regular season games last season. He also had a plus/minus rating of +15. In the playoffs, Hjalmarrson added five assists. If you remember, he slapped the puck past Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings in game seven of the Western Conference Semi Final. The goal would be disallowed due to a controversial call from the back referee. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they would go on to win the game in overtime.
With Hjalmarrson now locked up, the Blackhawks seem to be in good shape with their young core. The only main concern are the contracts of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, which come off the books at the end of the 2014-2015 season. The Blackhawks would definitely like to get deals done with both of their star forwards and will probably give them contract extensions next offseason.
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