Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | July 19, 2011

Man of the Day 7/19: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Born June 6, 1987 (age 24) in Eksjö, Sweden

Defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks

Meet part of the Swedish trio that I [Krista] like to call Team Ikea – Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg. Hammer was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005 but continued to play in the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League) until 2007. He made the trek to the U.S. and played with the Hawks’ AHL team, the Rockford IceHogs, moving between that team and the Hawks till he was given a permanent slot after James Wisniewski went to Anaheim.

He was a major player in the 2009-10 season, playing in 77 regular and 22 postseason games, averaging 19 minutes a game. In fact, it was his slapshot, redirected to the net by Andrew Ladd, that gave the Hawks the lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I think we know how that ended.

The lean, mean Swedish hockey machine in action.

Just how valuable is Hammer to the team? When he signed an offer sheet with the San Jose Sharks for 4 years/$14 million, the Blackhawks matched it. He was the first defenseman in 13 years to get an offer sheet as an RFA.

Fun fact: Niklas made a Blackhawks commercial at an Ikea store and became associated with meatballs because of it. So what did the Blackhawks do? They arranged for Hammer to make Swedish meatballs at a Meijer. Looks like he did a darn good job of it, too.

I think that chyron says it all.

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