It’s not over yet. The Capitals have announced that they have signed defenseman Matt Niskanen to a 7-year contract with an AAV of $5.75 million. Niskanen joins Brooks Orpik, who was signed to a five-year deal earlier today.
Washington has now acquired two UFA defensemen off the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were not a good defensive team, at a total cost of $67.75 million. What is going on in Arlington?
Niskanen is a 27-year-old, stay-at-home defenseman. He averaged over 20 minutes a game in Pittsburgh and would be expected to serve on the first or second pairing in washington. What that means for Mike Green, who led the Capitals blue line in puck possession last season, we do not know. Niskanen has generally strong possession numbers, leading Pittsburgh’s blue liners, though those numbers may be dubious.
Like Orpik, Niskanen has a no-trade clause in his contract. Quite a payday.
From the Capitals:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 1, 2014
Capitals Sign Matt Niskanen
Defenseman set career highs in goals, assists, games played and points last season
ARLINGTON, Va. – 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.”
Niskanen, 27, set career highs in points (46), goals (10), assists (36), games played (81) and game-winning goals (6) in 2013-14, led all NHL defensemen in plus/minus (+33) and was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. He also recorded a career-high nine points (two goals, seven assists), led the team with six power play points and was first among team defensemen with 29 hits in 13 playoff games.
The 6’0”, 209-pound defenseman has registered 167 points (35 goals, 132 assists) and 266 penalty minutes in 491 career NHL games with Pittsburgh and Dallas. In 55 career playoff games, Niskanen has collected 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) and 35 penalty minutes.
Niskanen made his NHL debut with the Dallas Stars on Oct. 3, 2007, against Colorado, played in the 2008 YoungStars Game at NHL All-Star Weekend and led all rookie defensemen in plus/minus (+22) during the 2007-08 season. Niskanen was drafted by the Stars in the first round, 28th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
The Virginia, Minn., native represented the United States at the 2009 World Championship and the 2006 World Junior Championship. He played two seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2005-07 and was named to the All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) First-Team as a sophomore after posting 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 39 games.
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