Niklas Hjalmarsson is off to Italy — Bolzano, specifically.
That’s the word on Thursday as the Blackhawks defenseman agreed to join Serie A club Bolzano-Bozen Foxes, according to the team website.
Bolzano is the most successful team in Italian hockey league history, winning 18 scudetti (league championships). The club says the signing was “made possible by a strong financial support from private sponsors” and reports suggest Hjalmarsson’s set to arrive in Italy on Friday.
According to a Bolzano press release, the 25-year-old was brought on board in part to compete in the Continental Cup, a tournament of national champions of countries not in the “Super Six” — the top six European nations according to the IIHF World Rankings.
Bolzano opens its Cup campaign against Denmark’s Herning Blue Fox on Nov. 23.
Hjalmarsson has two seasons remaining on the four-year, $14 million deal signed with Chicago in 2010 (after the ‘Hawks matched an offer sheet from San Jose.)
Last year, he missed 13 games with a concussion but still managed to post 1G-15A-15PTS in 69GP, finishing plus-9 while averaging 20:11 in ice time, the highest total of his career.