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Hjalmarsson agrees to two-year extension with Coyotes

Defenseman could have become unrestricted free agent after this season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Niklas Hjalmarsson agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.

The extension will begin in the 2019-20 season. The 31-year-old defenseman has one season remaining on a five-year contract he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks on Sept. 4, 2013, and could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

"I really want to be a part of getting the Coyotes back to the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs," Hjalmarsson said. "That's my main goal with re-signing. I see that as a mission that I want to be part of."

 

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Hjalmarsson had nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 48 games for Arizona this season after he was acquired in a trade from Chicago on June 23, 2017, for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin.

"I don't really know the exact timeline, but I told them pretty quickly that I was interested in re-signing with the Coyotes," Hjalmarsson said. "I felt like it was a great place for me in this stage of my career."

Selected by Chicago in the fourth round (No. 108) of the 2005 NHL Draft, Hjalmarsson has 152 points (24 goals, 128 assists) in 671 NHL games and 28 points (two goals, 26 assists) in 128 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

He won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks three times (2010, 2013, 2015).

"I think I have a lot to prove," Hjalmarsson said. "I wasn't happy with the way I played last year, being injured for most of the year. I'm very motivated to have a really good season. My body feels better than in a long time."

General manager John Chayka said he is convinced Hjalmarsson is healthy.

"I'm not a doctor, so I don't know for sure, but I do know we've looked at it from every different angle and talked to all the top people in the world, and it's unanimous that he's one of the most special athletes that people have come across," Chayka said. "His body is in tremendous shape, tremendous mobility, and he looks after himself as well as probably anybody in the League. … I think this is a guy who can play as long as he wants to play, that's how good of shape he's in."

The Coyotes finished 29-41-12, last in the Pacific Division and 25 points behind the Colorado Avalanche, who earned the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. But they played much better in the second half of the season.

"I feel like we can turn this thing around quickly," Hjalmarsson said. "Just look at [the Colorado Avalanche] from one year to another, making the playoffs and playing well all year. Sometimes small pieces can be a huge deal.

"I think it was huge for our group to be able to play with the confidence we did in the second half. Obviously, the first half was one of the worst starts ever in NHL history. No one can be proud of that, but at the same time, I feel like we played some good hockey in the second half."

The Coyotes also signed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract extension Sunday.

"I don't think we had a big impact on each other's extensions," Hjalmarsson said. "I just feel like Oliver is very comfortable there with the Coyotes and he really cares about the organization and really wants to turn things around too. It's huge for the Coyotes that he's willing to stick around nine more years. It's great for me, too, because he's such a nice guy off the ice. We have a lot of fun."

NHL.com correspondent Craig Morgan contributed to this report

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