When the San Jose Sharks signed restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year $14 million offer sheet on Friday, it seemed like the Blackhawks were going to be put in the tough position of possibly seeing a young and helpful player leave town given the Hawks’ cap situation. Instead, the Blackhawks wasted very little time in matching the Sharks offer and retaining their player. Chris Kuc from the Chicago Tribune tweets confirmation.
General manager Stan Bowman says Blackhawks will match Sharks’ offer sheet to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
With a cap hit of $3.5 million per year, the Blackhawks now find themselves that much more up against the salary cap. According to CapGeek, they’ve only got about $113,410 left to reach the cap. While the Blackhawks can go up to 10% over the cap and then have to get back down below it before the season, they really don’t have much of a need to go making their situation worse before it gets better because it’s about as rough as it can be.
The Hawks only have 15 players under contract and trying to get five more, which include one goalie and at least two defensemen while staying under that allowed limit of overage is daunting to say the least. Restricted free agent goalie Antti Niemi is going to salary arbitration if he can’t negotiate a new deal with the team and he’s likely to get something between $2 million and $3 million if he can’t get a deal done. What the Blackhawks will do to try to position themselves for better cap space bears watching.