Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has signed defeneman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a 4 year, $14M offer sheet. Hjalmarsson is only 23 years old and would provide a much needed on-ice boost to the Sharks defensive unit. Last year, the team had one of the weaker defensive units on the ice when it came to the top tier teams, but with Evgeni Nabokov in net it made the unit as a whole look better than it actually was.
The Chicago Blackhawks currently can match any offer on the young defensive stalwart but cap issues pose an interesting dilemma for them. They've already had to part ways with many good players and could be now faced with losing one of their most promising young players. SB Nation's San Jose Sharks blog, Fear The Fin had some commentary on that:
It's been well documented that Chicago has dealt with major salary cap issues since winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, and they've had to move out a significant portion of their Stanley Cup winning roster-- Brent Sopel, Dustin Byfuglin, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd have all found new homes as of today. However, with a significant amount of money still assigned to Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Cristobal Huet, Brian Campbell, and Duncan Keith, these issues have not subsided. Add into that the approximately $4MM that will count against the cap due to performance bonuses, as well as the upcoming negotiations with goaltender Antti Niemi, Chicago still has a long way to go before they become solvent.
Here's where things get interesting. Assuming they move Cristobal Huet to the minors, they free up another $5.625MM, leaving them with $9.225MM to work with. If Niemi signs for somewhere in the $2.5MM range they now have about $6.7MM to fill out their roster. Adding Hjalmarsson into the mix, that leaves them $3.2MM for three forwards, a defenseman, and a backup goaltender.
It will be quite the victory if the Sharks are able to take advantage of the Blackhawks' cap situation and maybe exact a small amount of revenge on the team that eliminated them from the playoffs this past season. We'll know for sure in about a week.