Blackhawks match offer to retain Hjalmarsson
Defenceman played key role in NHL team's run to Stanley Cup championship
Rest easy Blackhawks fans, you're not losing another key member of this year's championship squad just yet.
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman on Monday matched San Jose's four-year, $14-million US offer presented to defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson on Friday.
Had the Blackhawks elected to let the 23-year-old restricted free agent walk, they would have received the Sharks' first- and third-round draft picks in 2011 as compensation.
Earlier this off-season, Chicago was forced to trade forwards Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Adam Burish, among others, to get under the $59.4 million salary cap.
Hjalmarsson was paired mostly with Brian Campbell during the team's successful Stanley Cup run, posting a goal and eight points in the playoffs while averaging more than 21 minutes of ice time per game.
In the regular season, the six-foot-three, 205-pound Swede had two goals, 17 points and a plus-9 rating in 77 contests.
Hjalmarsson played 34 games with the Blackhawks over the previous two seasons, spending most of his time in the American Hockey League.
Chicago selected the Ekskjo native in the fourth round of the 2005 NHL entry draft.