TSN’s Gord Miller reports San Jose signed a 4-year, $14M offer sheet for Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson
According to Bob McKenzie via twitter, TSN’s Gord Miller is reporting that the San Jose Sharks have signed a 4-year, $15M offer sheet to 23-year old Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound native of Eksjo, Sweden registered 17 points in 77 games played for the Blackhawks last season.
Chicago, with 14 players under contract and $3,613,410 in cap space according to Capgeek.com, have 7 days to match the offer sheet. If they do not, the Blackhawks would receive San Jose’s first and third round draft picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft as compensation. In the last 9 years, only 5 players have received offer sheets (Ryan Kesler, Thomas Vanek, David Backes, Steve Bernier, Dustin Penner). Only the offer sheet made to Dustin Penner was not matched by his original team, the Anaheim Ducks.
It is a great move by the San Jose Sharks and GM Doug Wilson to put the screws to a financially strapped Blackhawks franchise. After winning a Stanley Cup Championship and having several players hit peformance bonuses, the Blackhawks lead the NHL with a 2010-11 salary cap penalty of $4.15 million due to overages. In a series of salary cap moves meant to allievate pressure, Chicago has been forced to move left wing Andrew Ladd, right wing Kris Versteeg, Shark killer Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and defenseman Brent Sopel among others.
San Jose GM/EVP Doug Wilson made a comment on the offer sheet to NHL.com. “We feel Niklas is a top-three defenseman in the National Hockey League,” he said. “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.”
The Sharks are trying to make offseason adjustments after losing captain Rob Blake to retirement, starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to the KHL, and veteran defensive forward Manny Malhotra to Vancouver. The team has yet to re-sign RFA forward Devin Setoguchi, who did not file for salary arbitration by the deadline, but Hjalmarsson could fill a vital role for the Sharks 2010-11 roster moving forward. A possible anchor with Dan Boyle on the first defensive unit, or on a second pair with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, he is a mobile, shutdown defenseman. He would significantly boost a Sharks transition game that has struggled a little with the departure of Christian Ehrhoff two years ago.
While specifics have not been released, a $3.5M average for Hjalmarsson would leave the Sharks with approximately $3.1M in cap space with 9 forwards and 7 defenseman under contract (not including Jay Leach, who recently signed a 2-way contract). The Sharks excel at promoting quality prospects from within the organization, but even with an injection of youth there almost certainly will be more roster turnover if this offer sheet is put through. The organization may have to take a hard look at a Torrey Mitchell or a Kent Husins, and try to balance the salary cap scales moving forward.
A reaction from Second City Hockey’s Sam Fels:
Oh no, panic time! The Sharks have signed Hammer to an offer sheet of four years, 14 million! In all honesty, I really don’t think that’s going to make the Hawks blink. For those who can’t count it breaks down to 3.5 a year, which is obviously high, but not ridiculously so. I got the impression the Hawks were trying to get Hammer in for about 2.5, 2 was always a pipe dream, and this is only 1 million more. Frankly, I’ll be shocked if Hammer isn’t matched. That would probably grease Niemi’s wheels out of town, but I know which one I’d rather have.
Niemi or Hjalmarsson is certainly a much different scenario than the Sharks faced with Marleau vs Nabokov, but with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson forcing the issue it will limit Chicago’s options. Comment via the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts, “Win Cup then die the death of 1,000 cuts.”
In other Sharks news, the annual prospect camp reportedly begins today. The Sharks prefer to hold the camp privately with no media or fans in attendance. It has also been reported that the annual “State of the Sharks” question and answer session with season ticket holders is still a go for this summer. The date has not been set. In addition to the rumor the Sharks were the other “major suitor” in on the Jaroslav Halak discussions, the Chronicle also recently reported the Sharks were in on the talks for former Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis. An RFA, Hamhuis was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers but ultimately signed as a UFA with the Vancouver Canucks. Also via ESPN’s Alvin Chang, GM Doug Wilson said the Sharks will not pursue UFA goaltender Marty Turco. Also via ESPN Dallas, San Jose and Minnesota have joined Detroit in talking to 40-year old UFA Mike Modano. Local SBN Sharks blog Fear the Fin will host an online call-in show today at 6PM (PT).
[Update] Sharks go after Chicago’s UFA defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with four-year, $14 million offer – David Pollak’s Working the Corners blog.
[Update2] Sharks Reach Out To RFA Hjalmarsson, Chicago Has Seven Days To Respond To Offer Sheet – SJsharks.com.
[Update3] Sharks sign Hjalmarsson to offer sheet – Jesse Rogers for ESPNChicago.com.
The San Jose Sharks signed Chicago Blackhawks restricted free agent Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14 million offer sheet… It’s the first offer sheet to an NHL restricted free agent this year.
“Teams realize Chicago’s position with the salary cap, and Niklas is a good, young player on the rise,” Hjalmarsson’s agent, Kevin Epp, said.
[Update4] Sharks sign Hawks defenceman Hjalmarsson to offer sheet – Eric Duhatschek for the Globe and Mail.
[Update5] Hawks can match Hjalmarsson offer from Sharks – Chicago Tribune.