Blackhawks to keep Hjalmarsson, match offer sheet from Sharks

The Chicago Blackhawks say they plan to keep 23-year-old restricted free agent defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks say they plan to keep 23-year-old restricted free agent defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

General manager Stan Bowman said Monday that the Stanley Cup champions will match the US$14-million, four-year offer sheet Hjalmarsson signed with the San Jose Sharks last week. Bowman says the team will complete the paperwork in the next couple of days.

Hjalmarsson earned $660,000 last season.

Bowman says the team plans to continue negotiating with restricted free agent goaltender Antti Niemi, who has filed for arbitration.

Since winning their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, the Blackhawks have traded seven players in order to remain on under the NHL’s $59.4-million cap next season.