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Niskanen says Bylsma firing won’t affect his decision

Jun 11, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT

Matt Niskanen Getty Images

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman, and impending unrestricted free agent, Matt Niskanen has a lot of questions to answer about where he’ll play next season and years to come soon.

The question of whether Niskanen will remain in Pittsburgh or not was already up in the air before coach Dan Bylsma was fired. So where does he stand after that? As Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review shares, he’s in wait-and-see mode.

“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.”

Regardless of who the new coach is, Niskanen may already be ticketed out of town.

The Penguins already have a lot of big money committed to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. With the salary cap going up to possibly over $70 million, the kind of deal Niskanen could command in free agency would be worth big bucks. The Penguins have other needs to address and other teams have holes on the blue line to fill.

Unless the new coach is someone Niskanen knows and loves, he’ll likely be in a different uniform next season.

  1. micklethepickle - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Caps sweater. Now that we’ve got Kuznetsov, desperately need blue-liners (and need to dump Green).

    • dipthatchip - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      I don’t understand all of the thumbs down on this one. As long as the price is right, I wouldn’t mind him in DC either, considering 1/2 the D core that get regular ice time are AHLers anyway

      • flyerspsu - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        the problem is the price wont be right, anybody who signs Niskanen is going 2 have to overpay a lot

  2. hockey412 - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Man it’d be great not to see players of Niskanen’s caliber walk away for nothing, especially when so many picks have been given up for rental players.

    • c9castine - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      which is why i keep preaching to trade martin, sign niskanen.

      • hockey412 - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        I don’t disagree at all. A lot of people think the Pens just can’t replace his presence on the power play, but I just plain disagree. I think it was a mistake not to give Despres more time last year, but I guess you can’t argue with the decision with waivers and all.

        His puck moving can be replaced by what they already have available – his defense is just not that great. People were on him 2 years ago, then he had a great season last year, and this year was back to bad.

  3. chrisk61 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    reasonable chance he ends up with flyers. hextall’s first big deal as GM.

    • steelcity333 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      I hope he ends up in Philly. They would be overpaying for a 3rd or 4th defenseman. Had a great year here last year but a lot of that had to do with all the injuries on the blue line.

      • c9castine - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        doesnt make sense.

        your saying he had a great year while spending 1/4 of it as the number 1 defenseman and another half of it as atleast top 4.

        how do you know theyd over pay? good 3/4th defenseman are worth 4 million dollars, if you want to be a contender.

      • steelcity333 - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:33 PM

        What I’m saying is that he’s going to be getting paid close to $6 million to be a 3rd or 4th defenseman. Being in that role will not allow him to produce the way he did. That’s why I feel he will be getting overpaid.

      • c9castine - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:56 AM

        questionable. i dont think he gets that much and i think hell still have a similar season as a no. 3 but i get what your saying.

        also, your missing the fact that a team wont be signing him to a 6 mil dollar deal to be a 3rd or 4th. your kinda contradicting yourself.

        to think somebody is going to give him 6 mil is to pretty much know that he will be signed for the purpose of being a top pairing defender.

      • flyerspsu - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        hes gonna get at least 6 mil on the market, not 4 mil, that is overpaying

    • runhigh24 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      The Flyers already have a bunch of 3rd and 4th defensemen signed to generous contracts. No need to add another one to the list.

    • twpguy1964 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      No chance he ends in philly. Flyers have enough of 2nd paring guy’s, they dont need another overpaid one. If they get a d-man it will be a number 1

    • flyerspsu - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      i hope he doesnt, he is gonna get overpaid badly by whoever signs him

  4. plazzman - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Nisky is going to get WAY overpaid this summer and I sincerely hope the Pens don’t weigh themselves down with that contract. Yes, Nisky had a great year this past season, I’ll give you that. Funny how that was in a contract year.

    But he was TERRIBLE the year before, particularly in the Playoffs when he looked like a boy amongst men. There was major speculatuion he was going to be traded before this last season to clear cap space, that’s how poorly he played. He has been inconsistent throughout his career and benefitted from the system the Pens played plus was aided by partnering with young phenom Ollie Maata.

    While I’d hate to “lose him for nothing”, the alternative will prove much more costly…mark my words.

  5. jtowme - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I think Niskanen is over-rated. He is adequate and has a good shot and he’ll throw a check every once in a while but he lacks the size and aggressiveness he should have as a defenseman. I personally don’t mind seeing him go…especially if he’s going to cost big bucks.

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Let him walk. Don’t overpay for a guy who was in a contract year!

  7. snipedanglecelly13 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Two words, red wings!

  8. quips007quips007 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    As a Pens fan….You all can have him………He is a 5th defenseman, 3rd pairing defenseman on any team…….No better….Don’t let last year fool ya…..Someone pays him a ton of money…Pens let him walk….And rightfully so……He will be exposed if he leaves….Comparing him to Letang, like some Pens fans did last year, is a travesty and a joke…Letang has more talent in his big toe than Niskinan has in his whole body..

    • hockey412 - Jun 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Agree about Letang as far as athleticism goes…but the problem is that Letang’s big toe has only played 63% of the season, average, over the past three seasons. Also, I’d argue that Niskanen is safer with the puck. Letang’s had like 1.05 giveaways per game played last year, which would have put him around 6th-7th highest. Letang would be hands-down the better player if he could just make the smart play.

      But the argument that I wanted to make is that if Niskanen wasn’t exposed last year, with all the injuries on the blue line, I’m not sure he will be. He had a great year, but I really do think he’s a fairly dependable player. He’s not the best skater, but can pass well, and makes good decisions.

  9. quips007quips007 - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Letang is high risk, high reward…The Pens can’t win a Cup without Letang…they can win one without Niskinin…….and in those 63% games he played, he had 11 goals…in just 63%……..you proved my point…..I think Niskinin will walk…I say let him….Bring up Despres and maybe Ulf’s kid…not to mention Pouliotte (spelling?)……Bye Bye Niskinin….

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