Swedish stay-at-home defender Niklas Hjalmarsson, one of the best defensive defencemen of the modern era, a three-time Stanley Cup champion and Olympic Silver medalist for Sweden, today confirmed his retirement from hockey at age 34.
Starting his junior career with HV71, Hjalmarsson split his first four seasons between the junior and senior squads of the Blue Bulls, and midway through his Swedish pro career was a fourth round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Joining the Blackhawks organization in 2007, Hjalmarsson would become a full-time Blackhawk within two years, becoming the defensive anchor of the dual-threat Chicago defensive corps. Hjalmarsson helped backstop the Hawks to three Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015, spending a decade with Chicago before being traded to Arizona in 2017. Hampered by injuries in the back-half of his career due to his aggressive style of play, Hjalmarsson only completed one full season out of four with the Coyotes, and retires with 172 points in 821 regular season games, along with another 29 points in 137 career playoff games, with an astonishing 1606 shot blocks over his fourteen year career.
Debuting with the Juniorkronorna in 2003, Hjalmarsson won bronze at the 2005 Under-18 Championships, making his lone World Junior appearance at the 2007 Championship. Given his pro playoff success, Hjalmarsson would only suit up at three senior tournaments in his career, making his lone World Championship appearance in 2012 in Stockholm. Hjalmarsson won his only senior medal, a Silver, with Tre Kronor two years later at the Sochi Olympics, helping backstop Sweden to Silver, and was part of Team Sweden at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
Despite all of his professional success, Hjalmarsson captured the IHLC just once, in the lead-up to the 2007 World Juniors. We wish Niklas and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!