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Matt Niskanen | Defenseman

Team: Washington Capitals
Age / DOB:  (27) / 12/6/1986
Ht / Wt:  6'0' / 209
Contract: view contract details
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Part of the reason Matt Niskanen decided to sign a seven-year, $40.25 million contract with the Capitals was the presence of head coach Barry Trotz.
Trotz is very well-respected in hockey circles after the success he managed to achieve during his tenure in Nashville and this was very much part of Niskanen's thought process. "I heard nothing but great things about Barry Trotz and the way things are going there," Niskanen said after signing with the club. In addition, both Brooks Orpik and newly-signed backup goaltender Justin Peters admitted they were swayed by a conversation they had with Trotz before signing in Washington as free agents. Jul 6 - 6:08 PM

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Date:

Matt Niskanen knows that his new contract carries higher expectations and he feels he will be up for the challenge.

"I've played essentially top-four minutes for 80 percent of the year last year. I had a lot of responsibility and at times I was the oldest defenseman by far on our team and our team had a lot of success," he said. "I had a good year. It definitely was a breakout year, and now the challenge for me is to try to keep moving forward. That's one thing me and Todd [Reirden] talked about, how do you get a little better this week, this season. I look forward to working with him some more." The two of them have a relationship from back in Pittsburgh. Niskanen amassed 10 goals, 46 points and a plus-33 rating in 81 games last season.
Jul 4 - 9:51 AM

Washington assistant coach Todd Reirden had a lot to do with the team's signing of Matt Niskanen.

Before joining he Capitals, he was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins so he is very familiar with Niskanen. "We've scouted Matt for a long time too," GM Brian MacLellan said. "We had some questions on this is a big year for him, he had a good year, he had a good year two years ago, but Todd Reirden our defense coach had a lot of input on why his game was where it is and why he believed it would stay at this level. So we trusted Todd's opinion on that." Niskanen enjoyed a career year offensively with the Penguins last season and he was the top free agent defenseman on the market.
Jul 2 - 9:33 AM

The Washington Capitals have locked up Matt Niskanen to a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million.

"We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington," said GM Brian MacLellan. "At 27 years of age, he is just entering his prime for a defenseman. We feel he will be a staple on our blueline for many years to come. We have stated all along that upgrading the defense was our top priority this offseason and we feel we accomplished our goal with our signings today." He racked up 10 goals and 46 points in 81 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Niskanen will add another weapon to Washington's top-ranked power play.
Jul 1 - 4:59 PM

The Washington Capitals are one team that's showing interest in UFA Matt Niskanen.

The Capitals need help on their blueline and Niskanen is a good puck moving defenseman. The problem could be the length of the contract as Niskanen could get seven years from one team and the Capitals may not want to go more than five. It should be interesting as free agency starts Tuesday at noon Eastern.
Jun 30 - 9:59 AM

Matt Niskanen will test the free agent market on July 1.

His agent, Neil Sheehy made the announcement on Twitter after his client spoke with the Pittsburgh Penguins about the decision. GM Jim Rutherford expected this to happen, so it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Niskanen will be the best blueliner available on the open market, so he should be able to land a hefty contract.
Jun 26 - 1:41 PM

Matt Niskanen "loves Pittsburgh" and he hasn't ruled out returning, according to agent Neil Sheehy.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford doesn't expect to re-sign Niskanen prior to the start of free agency, but the defenseman hasn't closed the door completely. However, it should be noted that the two sides aren't talking about an extension right now. Niskanen is still waiting to see who the Penguins hire as their next head coach.
Jun 24 - 11:42 AM

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford doesn't think he'll be able to re-sign Matt Niskanen.

That's not surprising given that Niskanen will be the best defenseman available on the unrestricted free agent market. That puts him in a great position when negotiating with the Penguins and seeing as they're in a tough cap situation as it is, the Penguins probably couldn't afford to give him anywhere near market value.
Jun 23 - 6:48 PM

Matt Niskanen, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent, will pay close attention to the Penguins' hunt for a new head coach.

Niskanen was close with recently fired bench boss Dan Bylsma. "Dan being dismissed won't affect my decision," Niskanen said. "However, I will pay attention to what the coaching staff is going to look like. It's not the only factor in the decision. But it is a factor." He might end up commanding a salary of around $7 million annually on the open market, which would probably price the Penguins out anyways.
Jun 11 - 11:21 AM

The Detroit Red Wings desire to upgrade their defense might lead them to pursue Matt Niskanen.

Niskanen had 10 goals and 46 points in 81 games in 2013-14 and he's a right-handed shot, which is something the Red Wings are seeking. The problem is, if Niskanen makes it to the free agent market, he'll have plenty of suitors and could end up getting a contract in the $7 million annually range. Although Detroit could conceivably pay that, they typically shy away from high profile free agent bidding wars. On the rare occasions where they did appear to engage in them in recent years, they typically came up short.
Jun 4 - 9:19 AM

Matt Niskanen recorded two assists in Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory over Columbus on Monday.

With that win, Pittsburgh has eliminated the Blue Jackets in six games. Niskanen was a key player in the first round series with two goals and eight points.
Apr 29 - 10:41 AM

Matt Niskanen notched a goal and an assist in the Penguins' 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Blue Jackets in Game 2 of the first-round series.

With each game, Niskanen, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, is showing his worth and earning himself a better payday. The 27-year-old played 27:35 in recording his second straight power-play-goal-assist performance. Brian Gibbons, who left after playing just 2:26 in the first period, picked up the other two goals, his first-ever playoff markers. Gibbons notched the game's first goal at even strength and the second on the power play. Paul Martin, who logged 34:07, had two helpers, and so did Sidney Crosby, who finished with 30:34 in ice time.
Apr 19 - 11:08 PM

Matt Niskanen practiced on the Penguins' top power-play unit in Saturday's pregame skate.

Both of his points (one goal, one assist) came with the man advantage in Game 1. Kris Letang struggled in the playoff opener, which resulted in Niskanen's promotion during the contest.
Apr 19 - 12:47 PM

Matt Niskanen had a goal and an assist in Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory over Columbus in Game 1 of the first round.

Niskanen had the best season of his career with 10 goals and 46 points in 81 games. With two points, he's already just one shy of his career-high in a single playoff run.
Apr 17 - 10:23 AM

While the Pittsburgh Penguins defense has been rattled by injuries this season, Matt Niksanen continues to be a pleasant surprise, as he notched 10 goals for the first time in his career on Sunday.

He now has 39 points overall, already buffing up another best-ever mark for the 27-year-old defenseman. With a solid 45 PIM and fantastic +31 rating, he's easily worth having but isn't available in many leagues any longer (79 percent owned).
Mar 16 - 3:16 PM

Depth Charts

All Positions
PosRoleName
C1Nicklas Backstrom
2Evgeny Kuznetsov
3Brooks Laich
4Jay Beagle
5Kris Newbury
LW1Marcus Johansson
2Joel Ward
3Jason Chimera
4Aaron Volpatti
RW1Alex Ovechkin
2Troy Brouwer
3Eric Fehr
4Ryan Stoa
5Tom Wilson
D1Matt Niskanen
2John Carlson
3Mike Green
4Karl Alzner
5Dmitry Orlov
6Brooks Orpik
7John Erskine
8Jack Hillen
G1Braden Holtby
2Justin Peters