Niklas Hjalmarsson was known as the player that the Chicago Blackhawks chose over Anti Niemi, following the 2010 Stanley Cup season. Niemi went on to be a quality, if not “quality+” goaltender for the San Jose Sharks. Hjalmarsson went on to be a shell of the player that Hawks fans thought he would develop into.
Many fans thought that “Hammer” would develop an offensive scoring touch. For the most part, he hasn’t.
Many fans looked for him to continue to be a physical force on the blueline for the Hawks. Overall, he has been, but this wasn’t until after he overcame a “soft spell”, after a suspension for a hit on the Buffalo Sabres‘ Jason Pominville, back in 2010.
In 2013, Hjalmarsson was a bit of a hybrid of what the lofty expectations, from what fans expected of him. A physical shot blocking defenseman, that contributed on offense, when needed. Niklas regained a consistent physical presence throughout the 2013 season, as well as continue to be the Hawks’ most effective shot blocker. At times, he found a way ton contribute to the Hawks offensive output, although maybe not as much as fans had dreamt of him.
While many fans hoped Hjalmarsson would develop more of an offensive touch, it really wasn’t/isn’t necessary, with guys like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, sitting atop the top defensive line. Hjamlmarsson was/is expected to be more of a shutdown defenseman for the Blackhawks, and will continue to be, as he enters the 2013-2014 season.
The 2013-2014 season will be a contract year, for Hammer, as he enters what may be his final season as a Blackhawk. It will be interesting to see what Hawks’ management does, in the upcoming season, with Hjamlarsson. It’s safe to expect yet another defensively dominate season from Hjalmarsson, as well as an offensive improvement, as he may be auditioning for other teams. With Keith and Seabrook, it is unlikely that Hammer moves to the top defensive line.
It will be interesting to see how Hjalmarsson reacts to the guards.
Enjoy him, while you can, Hawks’ fans! This very well, might be Hjalmarsson’s last chance to stay.
With Keith, Seabrook, Kane, Toews, and others in line for extensions, that may leave “Hammer” as good as gone.
However, no one knows for sure, but we can all prepare.
So, let’s hope for the best for Hammer, as we have no idea what will happen.