Niklas Hjalmarsson inks five-year extension with Blackhawks

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Hjalmarsson had two goals and eight assists last season for Chicago. (USATSI)
Hjalmarsson had two goals and eight assists last season for Chicago. (USATSI)

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Just two days after re-signing goaltender Corey Crawford to a six-year extension, the Chicago Blackhawks made another move in keeping the Stanley Cup team together for a long time to come by re-upping Niklas Hjalmarsson.

On Wednesday the team announced that the defenseman has signed a five-year extension that will keep him in Chicago through the 2018-19 season. He has been part of both recent Stanley Cup wins for the Blackhawks, averaging a career-high 20:54 of ice time per game this past season.

Now with the extension he'll be sticking around in Chicago as his role continues to grow.

What's going to be interesting is to see how much his salary is going to grow. Hjalmarsson was already making $3.5 million per season on his most recent deal, which was an offer sheet he signed from the Sharks that the Blackhawks matched. It's hard to justify his salary going down.

UPDATE: Pierre LeBrun reported the value on Hjalmarsson's contract at $20.5 million overall.

That would mean the Blackhawks now have close to $60 million tied up in just 14 players for next season. Granted, the salary cap will rise somewhat substantially by most estimates, but that's still not a lot of space under the cap with plenty of spots to fill. GM Stan Bowman might have to get creative down the line.

But it's certainly a far cry from what happened in Chicago after the 2010 Cup. That's when the Blackhawks had to tear apart some of the team because of the salary cap situation. This time Bowman is doing all he can to keep the band together.

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