The San Jose Sharks have extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago has stated their intention to match the offer and has until Friday to do so. The offer was for four years for a total of $14 million.
“We feel Niklas is a top-three defenseman in the National Hockey League,” said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. “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.”
If the Blackhawks choose to match the offer, Hjalmarsson will remain with the Blackhawks. Should Chicago not match, the Sharks would owe the Blackhawks a first and third round pick in next year’s draft.
The 23-year-old blueliner from Eksjo, Sweden played a major role in Chicago’s march to the Stanley Cup this past spring and is quickly becoming one of the NHL’s top shutdown defensemen. In the 2009-10 regular season, Hjalmarsson played in 77 games and posted two goals and 15 assists. During the run to the Finals, Hjalmarsson registered one goal and seven helpers to go along with a +9 rating in 22 contests.