Former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen has landed in Washington, agreeing to a seven-year deal on Tuesday worth $40.25 million. He is coming off an outstanding 2013-2014 campaign, setting a career-high in goals (10), assists (36), and points (46). The 27-year-old also set a new record for ice time with Pittsburgh last season, managing over 21 minutes a night for the Pens.
In the final year of a two-year contract worth $2.3 million annually, Niskanen picked up his play monumentally in the playoffs as well, tacking on two goals and seven assists in thirteen postseason games. The Virginia, Minnesota native spent most of his career in the NHL with the Dallas Stars before being dealt to Pittsburgh in 2o11.
One aspect of Niskanen’s game that makes him so special is his poise with the puck throughout all three zones. He is able to make a first pass out of the zone with ease, and the plethora of confidence he displays on the ice has made him very desirable towards teams searching for a top-six blueliner. Although he has only hit the 30-point mark in two seasons, the 28th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft has only improved with age.
Overall, it’s a good signing for the Capitals as Niskanen adds stability on the back-end as well as providing a threat from the point offensively with his quick release. The American d-man isn’t afraid to take a hit to make a play, and is able to dish them out utilizing his 6’0″ and 204 pound frame, which is exactly what they need moving forward.
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