The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Wednesday that they have extended the contract of Niklas Hjalmarsson for 5 years. The Blackhawks will pay Hjalmarsson $20.5 million over 5 years for an average cap hit of $4.1 million that will keep him with the Blackhawks through the 2018-2019 season.
Hjalmarsson was a pressing issue for Stan Bowman as Hjalmarsson was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"He does a lot of things other guys don't want to do -- penalty killing, blocking shots, defending, keeping the puck out of the net,” said Bowman. “That's really important when we got a lot of guys who play different styles than that. I think he's a great complement. When you have a player who hasn't really reached his best years yet, I think he's just coming into his prime at this point, you want to keep someone like that. He's been improving each year, and I expect him to continue to do so. I think for that reason it's an easy decision to commit to him because he's a warrior."
It was just three years ago that Bowman committed to Hjalmarsson by matching the 4 year, $14 million offer sheet that the San Jose Sharks signed him to after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
That led to the Blackhawks walking away from Antti Niemi and giving Corey Crawford the reins. Now in the span of three days, the Blackhawks have extended Hjalmarsson and Crawford.
In 46 games this year, Hjalmarsson scored 2 goals and added 8 assists while recording career highs in plus/minus (plus 15) and ice time per game (20:54). During the playoffs, Hjalmarsson saw his ice time increase to over 23 minutes and added five assists.
The success of the Blackhawks in the recent years contributed to the desire of Hjalmarsson to stay with the Blackhawks.
"As I've been saying before, I love the city, I love the people in Chicago,” said Hjalmarsson.
“They're really friendly. Playing in the United Center in front of 23,000 people every game, it's really inspiring. On top of that, we have a good team that can compete for the Cup every year. I really wanted to stay in Chicago, and I'm really glad I got the opportunity to do that."
In 306 career regular season games, Hjalmarsson has put up 9 goals and 47 assists while posting a plus 48.