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Hjalmarsson Embraces Trade to Young Coyotes

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson likely will be paired with fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

CHICAGO -- Newly acquired defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will be paired with Oliver Ekman-Larsson for the Coyotes next season, and the plan is for the two Swedes to quickly develop an effective chemistry.

"He's one of the better d-men in the League, so hopefully I can complement him with just playing my style of hockey," Hjalmarsson said. "At the same time, maybe (I can) try to develop a little bit more of a puck-moving element to my game and be more involved offensively."

Arizona acquired Hjalmarsson in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. Hjalmarsson got the news of the deal while in Sweden, and it hit him pretty hard at first.

"It was a lot of mixed emotions in the beginning there, the first 24 hours," Hjalmarsson said. "But at the same time, I'm excited for the new opportunity and being part of kind of a rebuild in Arizona with a lot of new faces and a lot of young and promising players ... It's tough to know what to expect, but I think they're a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I'm looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs."

Hjalmarsson, 30, and Ekman-Larsson, 25, were teammates with Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 and at the 2014 Winter Olympics, where they won silver medals. Both are left-shot defensemen, but Hjalmarsson said he is comfortable playing either side.

"He's the No. 1 defenseman there and an All-Star," Hjalmarsson said of Ekman-Larsson. "I played with him on the national team and he's a super nice guy I know I'll have a lot of fun with off the ice and maybe have chemistry with on the ice."

Hjalmarsson played 623 games for the Blackhawks, who drafted him 108th overall in 2005. The shot-blocking, hard-hitting blueliner, who owns a plus-109 rating in 623 NHL games, helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup three times (2010, 2013, 2015).

"I had the best time in Chicago," Hjalmarsson said. "... Now it's time for me and my family to move on and create some new memories.

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