By Chris Kuc, Tribune reporter
General manager Stan Bowman has spent the last few days heading into training camp for the 2013-14 season securing the Chicago Blackhawks’ long-term future.
Two days after locking up goaltender Corey Crawford with a six-year contract extension, it was defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson’s turn. The Hawks agreed to terms with Hjalmarsson on a five-year contract extension Wednesday that will run through the end of the 2018-19 season.
The signings are a far cry from the aftermath of the Hawks’ Stanley Cup championship in 2010 when nearly half the team was gutted in a salary-cap purge.
“This has been the type of offseason we had anticipated going back,” Bowman said. “We don’t want to go through what we did a few years back. We wanted to have some stability here.
“We’re in obviously a much better spot than we were a few years back for the simple reason we kept the majority of this group together.”
The two-time Cup-winning Hjalmarsson had five assists and was a plus-10 during the Hawks’ 23-game run to the ’13 Cup. During the regular season, the Eksjo, Sweden, native had two goals and eight assists while developing into a solid defender who isn’t afraid to lay a big hit or block shots.
Hjalmarsson, 26, has nine goals and 47 assists in 306 career regular-season games after being drafted by the Hawks in the fourth round (108th overall) in the 2005 NHL entry draft.