he decision was made yesterday to match San Jose’s four-year $14 million offer sheet to Niklas Hjalmarsson. That will be a $3.5 million cap hit. I still think it’s a little much for the 23-year old Swede, but the Blackhawks do have a couple over valued contracts on the books that overshadow this one. If you do compare it to other deals signed by free agent defensemen this summer, Hjalmarsson’s contract doesn’t look so bad.
As expected, the Hawks are in a tough spot (again) in regards to the salary cap. With fifteen players under contract next season, the organization has only $113,410 (source: cap geek) to spend on five to seven more players to fill out the roster. Teams do have the luxury to go up to 10% over the cap ceiling in the off-season. Antti Niemi’s arbitration hearing is July 29, and it appears as though the Hawks will need to use the extra space this summer until Cristobal Huet’s contract is removed from the mix. If that were done today, the Blackhawks would have $5,738,410 salary-cap space to work with.
Signing Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet, and forcing Bowman’s hand was a tactic that is Machiavellian in nature. The Blackhawks’ cap issues are well known around the league, and San Jose general manager Doug Wilson did all he could to screw the reigning Stanley Cup Champions the best he could within the parameters of the collective bargaining agreement. It’s an evil, yet brilliant strategy. Wilson was able to set Hjalmarsson’s price tag, and now Bowman and company will find it hard to keep Niemi around as a result.
If the Blackhawks opted not to match San Jose’s offer, the Sharks would have added a solid, smart and young defenseman to their roster for relatively little. It was a win-win situation for Wilson.
Coaching staff set
The void left by John Torchetti was filled yesterday by Mike Kitchen, and Mike Haviland signed a contract extension to remain with the Blackhawks as an assistant coach. Kitchen was on Joel Quenneville’s coaching staff when he was in St. Louis years ago.
How does this impact cycling?
Well the behaviour of all sports people across the world impacts the way people look at sportsmen and women in general, and so it isn’t fair to say this is simply related to hocky, as it also impacts us as cyclists in London.