Updates from Tuesday, July 1
The Washington Capitals have signed defenseman Matt Niskanen to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” said 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.”
Previously Ansar Khan of MLive.com reported on Detroit's chances of landing Matt Niskanen:
There are many well-known stars hitting the open market via free agency this offseason, but one name garnering a ton of interest is former Pittsburgh Penguins two-way defenseman Matt Niskanen.
Niskanen had his breakout season in 2013-14. Not only did he finish with a career-high in goals (10), assists (36), points (46) and plus/minus (+33), but he also showcased his skills in the postseason, racking up nine points in 13 games (six powerplay points).
His ability to shut down some of the best players in the Eastern Conference as a viable top-pairing defender is likely a major selling point for several teams looking to fill a need.
Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, shared his client’s decision to test free agency:
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN had more on Niskanen's free agency via Chris Nichols:
According to Art Regner of Fox Sports, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said that the organization has already scheduled a meeting with the free agent. Another team reportedly interested in the defender is the Capitals, per Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post.
While both Detroit and Washington may be interested in Niskanen, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting the terms Niskanen is looking for in a deal, “Don’t be surprised to see Niskanen and his agent Neil Sheehy fetch north of $5 million a year and term around five or six years for the puck-mover.”
There is no doubt that Niskanen has earned the salary he is asking for after a stellar season, but he has not been consistent during his seven-year career and teams will be wary about the long-term implications of such a potential deal. However, the risk is offset a bit by the fact that Niskanen is only 27 years old.
Whether it’s the Red Wings, Capitals or another franchise looking to add depth and skill to the blue line, Niskanen will be a hot commodity on the open market and should have no problem fetching his asking price.