Preferring to work under the cover of darkness, we’ve once again awoken to the news that Stan Bowman has signed another member of the Hawks to a contract extension while you peacefully slumbered.
Yet again, this contract goes out to one of the Hawks who is not without a bit of controversy, Niklas Hjalmarsson. While he hasn’t sparked quite the debate like our on-going love affair with goalies, Hammer has certainly had his detractors… and we’ve certainly been among them. Hammer followed up the solid 2010 run with a major dip in his game in 2010-11. We assumed he’d be among the first traded away following that year, even though he had a slight return to form the following year.
This past year though, Hammer exceeded our expectations and arguably took over the top defensive pairing when he was partnered with the inexplicably Swedish Johnny Oduya. He had patience we hadn’t seen in a while, a willingness to hold the puck longer or skate it out on his own to make sure he made the right play, rather than blindly flinging it up along the boards as was his pervious go to move.
Reports are that Hammer’s deal will be a $4.1 cap hit/year, which actually makes the signing pretty damn reasonable. The contract comes as a bit of a shock in its element of surprise. But the friendly cap hit puts Hammer in the same company as players like Vlasic, Shattenkirk, Jovanovski or Ehrhoff. All of whom I’d gladly pass over to keep Hjalmarsson, especially if he can continue to grow and improve his game.