According to a report from Craig Morgan, Arizona Coyotes stalwart defender Niklas Hjalmarsson has chosen to retire. The 34-year-old played parts of 14 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups, all with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Per source, Coyotes UFA D Niklas Hjalmarsson is retiring. I don’t expect a formal announcement or statement from Nik. Those who have covered him or known him know that is not his style.
He was an integral part of 3 Stanley Cups in Chicago and the consummate pro on/off the ice. pic.twitter.com/b3GUVwGWa9
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) July 25, 2021
Arizona Coyotes Defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson To Retire
Hjalmarsson has played four seasons with the Coyotes and has missed significant time in three of them. When he is on the ice, he’s still an excellent defensive defenceman, but his body is breaking down and he simply can’t do what he does for long stretches anymore. Hjalmarsson walks away still at the top of his game, when he’s on the ice.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, reportedly retiring from hockey, was the best defensive defenceman of the analytics era and should be remembered as one of the best stay-at-home blueliners of all time. #Yotes #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/2eFuSIlGqx
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 25, 2021
He’s never been a real scoring threat, but has seen 137 playoff games and is a solid defender. The versatile veteran can play either side of the ice and brings three Stanley Cup rings with him to retirement. He retires quietly, as he is an unrestricted free agent with an expiring $5 million AAV contract. The 34-year-old was a steady presence on the Arizona blue line, and helped them bring defenders like Jakob Chychrun along in recent years.
What This Means for the Future
If there’s any offseason for the Arizona Coyotes to consider a turnover, it’s this one. The general chaos that surrounded the team right off the hop last year has done nothing to build fan – or league – confidence. While the on-ice product has had highs and lows, off the ice has been something else. But there is an opportunity for the new general manager to hit the reset button, shedding salaries on his defence and bringing in his youth. Having one of their best ever come back to work in the front office can’t hurt.