Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Matt Niskanen is retiring from professional hockey, per a report from Elliotte Friedman. The 33-year-old defenceman had one year remaining on his current contract with the team.
Let’s update this: Matt Niskanen has informed PHI that he will retire. Team asked him to take some time and think about it, he did and stayed with that decision. The Flyers are working on re-signing Justin Braun, do not want to lose two critical members of the PK
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 5, 2020
Matt Niskanen Retires From Professional Hockey
This announcement certainly comes a surprise to Flyers fans and hockey fans around the league. Niskanen, only 33, was still an effective player last season, his first and only one with Philly. Niskanen had spent the past 12 seasons of his career playing for the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. The shutdown defenceman amassed 356 points (72 goals, 284 assists) in his 949 NHL games. Niskanen won the Stanley Cup playing with Washington in 2018, but his best season was arguably his last one with Pittsburgh in 2013-14. It was the only 10-goal, 40-point campaign of his career, and he finished 11th in Norris Trophy voting for the league’s best defenceman.
What Does This Mean for the Flyers?
Given the rather unexpected nature of this announcement, Philadelphia needs to rush to fill this hole on their blueline. Luckily, if Niskanen retires, his cap space will be freed up as well. They’ll undoubtedly use some of that to re-sign Braun and Philippe Myers, but will also look to add in free agency both on the blue line and at forward.
However, they’re still losing an effective piece. Niskanen spent most of last season on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov, a spot that will need to be filled either internally by Myers or externally by a free agent. Niskanen had one of his best defensive seasons in recent memory last year, so that kind of play will be sorely missed in Philly.
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