Niklas Hjalmarsson has already won the Stanley Cup twice with the Chicago Blackhawks and the team wants to keep him around as they try to become a modern dynasty. That’s the backdrop as the Blackhawks announced that Hjalmarsson has agreed to a five-year extension.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the deal is for $20.5 million with a $4.1 million average annual value.
Hjalmarsson still has one season at $3.5 million left on his old deal, so he’s now locked up through the 2018-19 campaign. Although he’s never recorded more than 17 points in a single season, Hjalmarsson is a solid defender who’s willing to sacrifice his body by blocking shots. He averaged over 20 minutes per game in each of his last two campaigns.
The 26-year-old defenseman becomes the sixth Chicago Blackhawks player signed through at least 2016-17. Forwards Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Bryan Bickell as well as fellow blueliner Duncan Keith are also on that list. Recently goaltender Corey Crawford joined them with a six-year, $36 million extension.
Chicago is in a potentially tricky spot from a cap perspective. With Hjalmarsson signed, they now have about $36.6 million in cap space dedicated to just seven players in 2015-16 and that doesn’t include Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane as both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2015.