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Niklas Hjalmarsson settled for less to stay with Blackhawks

DETROIT MI - MAY 23: Niklas Hjalmarss#4 Chicago Blackhawks tries get puck past diving JustAbdelkader #8 Detroit Red Wings during

DETROIT, MI - MAY 23: Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks tries to get the puck past the diving Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings during the second period in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on May 23, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Updated: September 4, 2013 11:54AM

The Blackhawks locked up another piece of their core on Wednesday, signing defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a five-year contract extension. reported that the deal is worth an average of a $4.1 million per season. The deal keeps the 26-year-old blue-liner in Chicago through the end of the 2018-19 season.

The deal comes two days after goaltender Corey Crawford signed a six-year extension. It could be the last piece of business for the Hawks before camp begins next Thursday, as the only players on the roster who will be unrestricted free agents after next season are Brandon Bollig, Michal Handzus, Sheldon Brookbank and Nikolai Khabibulin. Andrew Shaw, along with prospects Jeremy Morin, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith and Dylan Olsen will be restricted free agents.

Hjalmarsson, a key member of both the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup champion teams, emerged last season as arguably one of the Hawks’ top two defensemen, a steady presence at both ends of the ice. Hjalmarsson had two goals and eight assists and a career-high plus-15 rating during the regular season, and had five assists and a a plus-10 rating in the postseason. The fourth-round pick in 2005 has nine goals and 47 assists and a plus-48 rating in 306 career regular-season games, with one goal and 16 assists in 75 playoff games.

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