Skip to content

Niskanen gets $40.25 million over seven years from Caps

Jul 1, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

Matt Niskanen Getty Images

Matt Niskanen just got paid — $40.25 million over seven years for the 27-year-old defenseman, by the Washington Capitals.

The biggest deal of today’s free-agent frenzy, in terms of total dollars, comes with a cap hit of $5.75 million.

The size of the contract should come as no shock, really. Among pending UFAs under 30, no d-man was in a stronger position than Niskanen heading into today’s bidding. The right-shooting blue-liner finished 2013-14 with 10 goals and 36 assists for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But the fact the contract was signed with the Caps may have been a slight surprise. Especially after Washington signed veteran d-man Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million deal earlier in the day.

Then again, upgrading Washington’s blue line was what new general manager Brian MacLellan intended to do this offseason. And at the very least, he’s added to it.

“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” MacLellan said in a release. “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.”

“I can honestly say I was looking for the best hockey fit,” Niskanen told TSN, adding that he’s looking forward to getting Alex Ovechkin the puck, as well as reuniting with assistant coach Todd Reirden.

With the additions of Niskanen and Orpik, one does wonder what the future holds for Mike Green, who’s signed through next season for a cap hit just north of $6 million. Will the Caps explore trading the 28-year-old this summer? The Detroit Red Wings are still searching for a right-shooting d-man, is partly why we ask.

  1. rbbbaron - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Holland sure is going big this off-season, eh?

    • billiam55 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      more like retard big.

    • redwings1977 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:58 PM

      Okay, I give up. I was thinking Holland could pull off something big but I guess you’ve been right all along. My only hope is they throw a monster deal at Subban and either steal him away from the Habs or make them pay through the nose. Terrible day for the Wings.

      • lilgurgi - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Sort of what the Flyers did to the Preds with Weber last year?

  2. phtjoey - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Excellent get for the Caps. Where is Green going?

    • hennessey1200hp - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      MN Wild

      • wutangwild - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        Respectfully decline

      • bandree - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Wow Caps just got Pens sloppy seconds! Niskanen might bring some talent, but Orpik is done!

  3. pjblake2redwings - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    BALLLLLLLLLLLSSSSSS! Holland you are useless!!

    now what.. give up more young guys for a D man. cant wait for another move like when we gave Calle jarnkrok to Nashville for 3 weeks of Legwand. damnnnnnnnnn it

    • rbbbaron - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      Ahem, Kenny can’t hear you– he’s got those 4 Stanley Cup rings plugging his ears

      • dtownbeatdown - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Yea the 4 stanley, 3 of those when there was no salary cap. The guy hasn’t had the most solid of signings during the salary cap era. He has done some good, but I still believe he is overrated. And Babcock will leave next season for Holland not getting him his guys.


      • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 2, 2014 at 2:49 AM

        Clowns think that Babcock and Holland don’t work together during the FA period. dtownbeatdown is a clown.

        I could list all the draft picks that were brought along slowly and have paid off but why bother? You have fools like spewing utter foolishness it would go right over their heads.

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 2, 2014 at 2:46 AM

      Any Red Wing fan upset about not paying Niskanen 40 million is a buffoon

  4. Stiller43 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    LOL!! Good for Nisky, but this is VASTLY over what he should get. He’s a solid top 4 D guy, but this is absurd.

    • bandree - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      As a Pens fan I agree! Niskanen plays only when its a contract year. Im afraid the Caps are going to get an expensive dud! Sorry Caps Orpik is made of glass these days apparently 5.5 mil worth.

    • c9castine - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      my thoughts exactly. hes a solid defenseman no doubt about it and will probably score 35 pts and be great defensively next year and for a few years to come…

      im just not sure when that turned into a 6 million dollar player. those guys used to get paid 3.5-4

      like i said. market drives value. hes was one of few around that had his attributes. the only other one was Ehrhoff and pittsburgh snagged him up at a bargain price for short term.

  5. lowenni - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    YES!!! No idea where this came from but what an awesome signing for my Caps! Bye bye Mike Green!!

  6. rsl22 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    So I guess Caps aren’t signing a 2C…

    • dipthatchip - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      prepare for a low scoring team this year I guess

      • bethgoesglobal - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:37 AM

        No, Caps can now rely on their defense to get a lot of goals (that’s what Niskanen is for), right????

        Anything can happen. We (Caps) dreamed a dream…..

    • Eutaw's Finest - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      What good 2C was even out there? A bunch of 3/4 line guys but no true 2C out there in FA to be had. Unless you wanted to retain Grabo, but he wanted 1C money and it wasn’t going to happen. And based on the fact that he STILL hasn’t signed anywhere? He’s not getting anywhere close to the money he wanted.

      And I still think the need for a 2C is really overblown. You had Backstrom nailing down the top line, and behind him you have MoJo, Laich, Kuzya, Latta… plenty of guys who can play center. I really think Kuzya has a high ceiling and can fill the void.

      • rsl22 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        I think you’re right that Kuz will play 2C to start the year, but it would have been nice to have Grabo back instead of going with a prospect.

        If Burakovsky is ready for big time and can produce at NHL level, that would definitely help even out the offense. OV is still the only guy that can score on the team.

  7. President Charles Logan - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Mike Green isnt going anywhere anytime soon I bet.

  8. shutton83 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    People said Nisk was gonna get overpaid, and they were right, he makes the caps better but is it worth the price tag? Only time will tell but I think this a future compliance buyout, short term however he’s a huge difference maker.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:52 PM

      I respectfully disagree. While the term is definitely longer than I expected (bot only by a year or two) I think the cap hit is right on the number. Niskanen is jack of all trades and a master of none, but that versatility paid off huge for the Pens last year. On the powerplay and in the offensive zone seemingly every shot hit the net, and he was remarkably composed with the puck. On the PK and in the defensive zone, he has great space, and is a great stick on puck defender – the perfect example of the fact that you don’t need to be a mauling giant to play defense.

      I think Caps fans should be happy with signing – to the point at which that the Orpik signing and this are a net neutral (which is saying something, given how bad the Orpik signing was).

  9. billiam55 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    overpay. geeez.

  10. ludacrish05 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    We wanted defense and we got it

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      You got defense just by hiring Trotz.

  11. wutangwild - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    We all knew he would be getting overpaid, but he should be a nice addition to the Caps. Just wonder how the Mike Green saga will end

  12. ludacrish05 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Mike green is staying. We just spent all our salary cap money and say bye bye to grubs

  13. gbatap - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM


  14. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    Moves like this remind me of Holmgren.

  15. ludacrish05 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Try that puppy

  16. ludacrish05 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:19 PM


  17. phtjoey - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    I really don’t think the caps overpaid. Last year he showed that he was able to move the puck from deep in the d zone up the ice to the offense with very very few turnovers. His d play was extremely good considering all the man games loss to injuries by the Pens’ d men. There is no reason to think he can’t play as well as he did last year if he plays within the boundaries of his abilities. i.e. he’s not Orr or Coffey. He’ll be fine if he doesn’t try end to end rushes.

    • blynasty - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      He was playing with the future Nick Lidstrom. He is an offensive asset and decent in his own zone but not among the elite defensemen in the league.

      • phtjoey - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:09 PM

        Which is why he didn’t get elite dollars. Right?

  18. govtminion - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    WOW! A third of that vaunted Penguins defense is in Washington now!

    …It was vaunted, wasn’t it? I mean, it’s getting paid like it now. So… this must be freaking awesome, right?

    Did Mike Milbury sneak into the Caps’ office today and start stamping papers?

    • c9castine - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      7th ranked in mil and Todd reirden is there too

  19. theageofquarrel - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    If you can’t beat them,sign their free agents!!!!!

  20. nicofthenorthstar - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Way too much to pay for this guy. Good for him though.

  21. jaybaileys - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Wow Happy overpay former Penguins Day! That said he probably deserves most of that money.

  22. adamal17 - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Hey Ken Holland; It’s July 1st…I just wanted you to know in case you were confused because you’ve only signed internal players. Ugh…I understand Niskanen was over paid a little bit on this one but he put all his eggs in one basket and got burned…just like two years ago. We didn’t just miss out on Niskenen but the other three RH d men that were a lot more fitting for the wings. We can’t hope that Ryan Sproul just decides to be an NHL d man next year…sometimes you have to over pay; even if you end up pissing Kronner or Big E off. Good for Niskanen and the caps though.

  23. sndflyers - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    Bahahahahaha! 40 mil!?!?!? Great job Matt, didn’t know you were a stick up man too. Robbery. This is why the caps are garbage.

  24. rabidbillsfan - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    I love when posts go up, haters gonna hate. I’m not a “Caps Fan”, but you could change the headline to “[Insert Team Name] signs [Insert Player name] for [Insert Dollar Amount]” and the trolls will be out in full force. If the Caps don’t pay him $40, then maybe somebody else just happens to pay him $39.75, sitting back and watching FA walk in your door and then right back out because you want to play hard-ball is no way to do business. What’s really funny is that A.) If the Pens weren’t handcuffed by their roster of 6 players, he would probably have stayed, but for maybe $35, doubt he goes for less than that. B.) He is better than any defensive player on the Flyers roster. And finally, C.) There were teams that SHOULD have over-paid for his services, and didn’t (Ala the Detroit Red Wings.) Sure, I’m going to get flamed because I’m a Sabres Fan, but if you want to rate an offseason, then go ahead and rate ours. I’d give them an A in the draft, and so far, an A+ in FA/trades. How often do teams recoup the players they traded away at the deadline, for high picks no less, in FA? The Sabres overhauled their roster in 72 hours and maybe over-paid MM by 500k/season. No cap crippling, untradeable contracts. Sorry to get off topic of the team at hand, but Tim Murray is doing a heck of a job and is showing why guys like GMGM, Shero, Gillis etc. were all fired. Time will tell, but Tim is committed to building through the draft, so to really grade him, it’s going to be a few years.

    • sndflyers - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      I hate when people use the phrase ” a la “. It’s corny and since Pierre Mcguire uses it a lot which only makes it worse. I’m definitely not a troll and just because I make comment you don’t like it doesn’t make me one. Niskanen was the 1 defensive free agent THIS year, which isn’t saying much but if stupid teams want to over pay a guy just because he’s the best out there then obviously any player would take as much as they can. This happens every year so it’s not like I’m surprised. And im a flyers fan so i know a thing or two about bloated contracts.Bottom line is they over paid. Severely.

      • bethgoesglobal - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:51 AM

        You need to take a second, third, maybe fourth look again at the d-men UFA’s this year. Niskanen may have been the most touted, but there was a lot of talent available (some still is). Stralman, Dan Boyle, Orpik, Erhoff, Fayne, ect ect. You look it up.

      • sndflyers - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:04 AM

        Really ? At 38 yrs old Boyle is not the player he was and will be used as situational player. Stralman is a decent player but is receiving his payday based on 1 year. Orpik is solid and nothing more I’ll leave it at that. Erhoff is decent but is a little older and slow and was already on a bloated contract hence why he got bought out… you give me 4 names and a couple etc etc etc’s and I’m the one who needs to look it up??? Cmon now. Those are players are average in every way possible. Which was my original point lol. Get real.

      • sndflyers - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:12 AM

        When I said niskanen was the “1” defensive free agent, I did not mean literally the only defensemen available. I meant the #1 ranked defensive free agent. I guess that went over your head lol. Furthermore I was congratulating Niskanen for going to the bank. I was criticizing the caps for over paying.

  25. rsmaggiemae - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    I am from Minnesota and Congrats to Matt N.
    I hope he can get along with monopoly man Trotz who has already critizied Ovie;s skating ability which I can assume did not go over well
    It sounds like Matt could not play without Orpik who was over paid for sure at his age. but time will tell what Matt can do as he will not have the same type of set with the Caps as he had with Pitt
    He didnt do much with the Pens before last year … we will all have to wait and see
    Glad the Wild did not spend that kind of money and term this time around, but then if he does not do well, they can always buy him out in a year or two..

  26. flyboystransport - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    Way too much

  27. hockeydon10 - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    I just don’t get it.

    Babcock begs for RH shot d-men, or at least one RH shot d-man. There are three suitable RH shot d-men on the market, plus one that’s old but at least can still play the game.

    Niskanen was said to be looking for 6+, but instead slips away at 5.5. To another eastern team.
    Stralman was known to be in the 4.5 range, and signs with your protege for exactly that. Oh, and that’s a division rival.
    Gilbert put up the points for Florida, has good advanced stats and signs for another division rival at a reasonable price.
    Boyle goes to another eastern conference team.

    Who does Holland sign during the Free Agent Frenzy? Kevin Porter, minor leaguer. He could have signed two of those d-men for the contracts they got and given Babcock a LH/RH pair on both the first and second unit power play.

    Now what? Convince Quincey to come back when they didn’t negotiate with him during the season? Or is just just aiming to be a bubble team again this coming season? Does he have a clone of Nick Lidstrom that nobody else scouted ready to sign with the team?

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      If you wanted Niskanen for 5.5 you’re an idiot
      If you think that just because Holland offered Stralman 4.5 means he has to take it, you’re an idiot.
      If you think Gilbert if someone to be upset about losing out on, you’re an idiot.
      Boyle? Ya You’re an idiot

  28. 6superbowls - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Pens South. Someone talk Ravanator off the ledge. Like the Ravens, modeling your team after the success of another Pgh team.

    • babykaby - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:31 AM

      Oh, that’s right, all the Pens players have come thru the draft every year. Uh huh, give me a break moron.

    • Eutaw's Finest - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      3 notes wrong with your logic:

      #1- Niskanen stopped in Pitt. He was not a product of the system. He did not get drafted by Pitt. He just happened to get traded there. Let’s not turn it into something it’s not with Niskanen.

      #2- Ravanator is a Steeler troll who pretends to be an obnoxious Ravens/Caps fan in order to make the entire fanbase look like morons. It doesn’t work and everybody sees through his idiotic attempt. Well apparently ALMOST everybody, since he seems to have fooled you.

      #3- Leave football out of this conversation, especially when it doesn’t make sense. The Steelers don’t own “hard nosed football” or slot receievers or great defense. They are simply characteristics of good teams. Name one player the Ravens took from Pittsburgh to try to emulate them? Cordell as our backup 10 years ago? Anything more recent? Is Harbs sticking his foot out on the field trying to trip a player headed for the endzone? No. It’s just Steelers fans using this logic to justify the Ravens being perennial contenders, much to their dismay.

  29. pwshrugged - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Weren’t the Caps paying attention to the Sabres lately? This deal just reminds me of the Ehrhoff deal a couple years back that they just bought out.

    As for all the butthurt Wings fans, we do not need long-term liability like this. The safer course is the better option, we have plenty on the farm and other smaller deals we can make. The Wings honestly already have four top-4 defensemen (Kronwall, DeKeyser, Smith, Ericsson), they just could use a right-handed shot for the PP. Overpaying for that would have been a mistake. Holland might also be a bit shy right now after handing out some awful contracts lately that he just watched happily disappear off the books. The team is stacked with youth; be patient and trust in a team that’s delivered 23 straight playoff appearances.

  30. joeysjourney2014 - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    I am a troll

  31. sprtcommentorg21 - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:25 AM

    Was always a Niskanen fan will def miss his play on the Ice hope the Pens can make some more moves going forward however.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1795)
  2. P. Kane (1326)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1175)
  4. S. Matthias (1133)
  5. M. Giordano (1034)