Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) holds the Stanley Cup up during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
2. Niklas Hjalmarsson (Round 4, 2005 Draft)
Niklas Hjalmarsson is the definition of a diamond in the rough. He isn’t a stat-sheet stuffer, but he his one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL and is a warrior when it comes to blocking shots. “Hammer” has netted only 16 goals and has only 101 points in his eight-year career, but his value goes far beyond the scoring sheet.
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Hjalmarsson has been the anchor defensively on three Stanley Cup championship teams and has seen his role increase during the past five years. Head coach Joel Quenneville hasn’t been afraid to throw Hjalmarsson onto the ice and he averaged almost 22 minutes of ice time during the 2014-15 season. That number went up to more than 26 minutes during the playoffs, when the Hawks were limited to practically four defensemen.
Hjalmarsson is one of the great unsung heroes during the Kane and Toews era and could end up being the best value the Blackhawks ever found in the draft by the time his career concludes.
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