At the end of the Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp 'Hawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media and let it be known that they will match the San Jose Sharks offer sheet extended to Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Hjalmarsson was a key defenseman throughout the season and during their Stanley Cup run, scoring 17 points in the regular season and eight in the playoffs while also sporting a combined plus-minus of plus-18.
Now, Hjalmarsson is not a point producer, but he is a terrific defensive defenseman that Scotty Bowman has likened to Red Wing great Nick Lidstrom, high praise indeed.
With Hjalmarsson's offer now matched the Blackhawks will likely need to make more moves in order to get under the salary cap next season.
The one move that seems almost certain is that French goaltender Cristobal Huet will be moved to the minors or loaned to a team overseas, which will provide the 'Hawks with a cap savings of $5.625 million.
Even with Huet coming off the books the 'Hawks still need to add a minimum of three forwards, one defenseman, and two goaltenders with only $5.7 million in cap space left.
It is likely that the 'Hawks will be shopping the likes of Tomas Kopecky, Marty Reasoner, Patrick Sharp, and Brian Campbell in order to gain more wiggle room under the cap.
With all that being hearsay, we at least know that the Blackhawks will be bringing back a major piece of their success in Hjalmarsson.
Hopefully Hjalmarsson can continue his development and within a couple years we'll see his contract as a steal for the Chicago Blackhawks
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