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Niskanen definitely going to market, agent confirms

Jun 26, 2014, 12:58 PM EDT

Matt Niskanen #2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins takes a shot against the Boston Bruins during Game One of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on June 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(May 31, 2013 - Source: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

No surprise here, but it’s now official: Matt Niskanen is headed to free agency.

That’s what his agent, Neil Sheehy, confirmed on Thursday, explaining that the Pens’ blueliner spoke with the team and informed Pittsburgh that he’ll be testing the UFA market on July 1.

Niskanen figures to be a highly sought-after commodity. Coming off a year in which he scored a career-high 10 goals and 46 points, Niskanen — who finished 11th in Norris voting — is reported to be high on the wish lists of the Islanders (see here), Red Wings (see here) and Wild (see here), to name a few.

Just 27 and a right-hand shot, Niskanen should get a significant pay bump from the $2.3 million he earned annually on his last deal. That was a very cost-effective deal for Pittsburgh, especially given the production he provided in ’13-14; as such, new Pens GM Jim Rutherford admitted it would be difficult to keep Niskanen in the fold.

Niskanen has been with the Penguins since the 2010-11 campaign, when he was acquired as part of the James NealAlex Goligoski swap. No Pittsburgh blueliner has played more games over the last three years (196) and only one — Kris Letang — has scored more points than Niskanen’s 81.

  1. JoeAvg - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Shero was never able to find a diamond in the rough on draft day but he sure knew how to target “throw ins” at the trade table. A lesser skill perhaps, but he excelled at it (see: Pascal Dupuis).

    • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      yeah, have to give him that. all of his trades werent beauties but he had some of the biggest steals of the last few decades in his tenure.

  2. c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    oh yeah baby, let the games begin. how high can we go?

    matt niskanen is a very good defenseman, an excellent person and a very mature, and now experienced leader.

    hes going to get overpaid, and i am truly happy for him. part of me still holds onto a little hope hell take a discount and decide to sign here, but i full expect him to field awesome offers and take one of them.

    if he goes to minnesota he will be at home, he’ll make that team a serious contender. the depth that adds to their blue line and the support it would give to ryan suter would be substantial. a core with players like suter, niskanen, spureon, parise, granlund, neiderreiter, pominville would be a good team.

    • bikeman99 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      He’s a 5 defenseman who can shoot the puck straight but can’t defend

      • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        really? the league leading defenseman in the entire NHL in +/- at +33 can’t defend?

        id love to hear more.

        also, shoot the puck straight?

  3. rushledger - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    As a pens fan thank you for the last 4 season I appreciate them! You deserve to get a good pay day.

    • illogic87 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      i bet he cant wait to get off that disaster of a team

      • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        hes on record many times saying how much he loves it here and hed like to stay but realize the chances are low. his agent even said as much publicly.

        your name is very suiting.

  4. stixzidinia - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    He’s a good D man, but he’s not worth what he’s going to get paid by somebody. He had a career year, but no way he’ll repeat those metrics. He has no place to go but down.

    • jpelle82 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      he’s gotten progressively better every season. i would agree its less than likely he does it next year with a new team right away but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened as long as said team uses him on the #1 powerplay unit consistently. the pens had the #1 powerplay most of the year, and he was on it most of the year due to injuries. you take away his 15 powerplay points and he’s a 30 pt defenseman. chances are he goes to help a team improve in their powerplay though, like a Minnesota or Detroit who need the help and chances are he puts up 40-50 pts again because of that in my opinion. he’s never gotten those minutes before this year, now he can expect those minutes wherever he goes so… no reason to expect he would do less except for the fact he wont be playing with malkin and Crosby anymore…which i guess could be the entire basis for an argument on why he will never hit 46 pts again, one that i don’t believe to be true though.

    • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      i dont see why he has to go down. like i said hell probably get over paid but thats what the market is – much like callahan there just arent many top pairing right handed defenders out there. callahan is a winger who can score 25 goals and provides a lot of grit and intanglibles, not very many like him. dustin brown is one of the few true comparisons.

      big factor in these contracts is the current market…and youve seen the list of team pursuing niskanen already. thats because everybody needs that type of player and theres all of about what….1 or 2 on the market.

  5. rsmaggiemae - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Living in Minnesota and a die hard Wild fan
    Just remember Matt what Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz
    ‘There’s no place like home”
    and you would be so close to Tower…
    hope to see you in the green very soon and I mean that both ways the jersey and the cash

  6. avfanforlife - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Hmmm… As an Av’s fan, I wonder how he would fit in Denver? 1 more piece on the D is what we need to complete the puzzle along with a new solid back-up to Varly if JS is in deed gone…

    • avscup - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      We need at least one more solid piece on the blue line but not Niskanen. He is a jack of all trades, master of none and a solid upgrade over a few we have but not for the money. We need some nastiness and he does not provide that.

  7. buckhome - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    There’s also talk about the payday that Stralman will get after his play in Stanley Cup.

    As a Ranger fan, I’d be willing to let Stralman go if Niskanen could become a Ranger. What will be the cost of each per year?

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      My guess is that Niskanen will get a little more than Stralman. Gun to head right now I would be Niskanen gets in the $4.75M – $5M range and Stralman is right on $4M

  8. c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    my guess is 5.5 for 4 years. something like that

  9. jweipp17 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    Ken Holland better open up the check book for this guy. He would look great on the Wings blueline. The last few off seasons have not been great. Time for Holland to step up!

  10. bcisleman - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Isles are likely to overpay to get him and that will likely boost his return no matter where he signs.

    • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:14 PM

      Isles have to overpay to get anyone

      I doubt they land Niskanen

      not hating, I just don’t see someone going from Pitts to NYI when you get to chose your destination. Other teams make more sense, even if its at 500k+ less per year

  11. roblo76 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    BREAKING: Desperate Oilers to offer 14.5 million per year.

  12. plazzman - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Nisky is going to get WAY overpaid by somebody this year…I’ve heard between 5-6 mil a year, and as much as 7 in some articles. No way on God’s green earth is he worth that! Like someone said above, he’s a one season wonder.

    Yes, he had a great year this season (funny it was in a contract year) while playing mostly with Olli Maata, a budding top flight Dman. But as good as he was this season is how awful he was last season, and he was AWFUL! Many Penguin fans wanted Shero to trade him before the season, he was that bad. Especially in the Playoffs when he looked like a boy among men and finished a -4. He’s a career -9 in the Playoffs as well, including -2 this last season.

    I wish him all the luck and he should go for the money while he can, but I wouldn’t give him more than 4 mil/year for 4 years, max 5.

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