Sharks sign Chicago's Hjalmarsson to offer sheet
The San Jose Sharks have made a play for defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson, with the Chicago Blackhawks on the clock to match the offer within seven days.
The Sharks said on Friday they would sign the restricted free agent to a four-year, $14-million US offer sheet.
Chicago will have a week to match the offer.
Following their Stanley Cup victory the Blackhawks were forced to bid goodbye to the likes of Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Burish to meet their salary cap obligations for next season.
San Jose general manager Doug Wilson got several looks at Hjalmarsson last season, as the Sharks and Blackhawks met eight times in the regular season and playoffs.
"We feel Niklas is a top-three defenceman in the National Hockey League," Wilson said in a statement. "We saw his abilities first-hand in the playoffs last season and he was an important piece of a Stanley Cup-winning team. He is a solid player that would be a good fit on our team now and in the future."
Hjalmarsson scored two goals and 15 assists in his first full NHL season. The 23-year-old Swede played 34 games with the Hawks over the previous two seasons, spending most of his time in the AHL.
He appeared in all 22 of Chicago’s playoff games, notching one goal and seven assists with a plus-9 rating. The six-foot-three defender averaged 21 minutes of ice time, third most on the team.
The Blackhawks selected the Ekskjo native in the fourth round of the 2005 NHL entry draft.