Skip to content

Coaches, Ovechkin influenced Niskanen in picking Caps

Jul 12, 2014, 3:20 PM EST

Matt Niskanen Getty Images

As a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Matt Niskanen had his fair share of experience playing against the rival Washington Capitals, but he was also watching them for a different reason.

“Really my whole career, I’ve always kind of kept an eye on the Caps, because of (Alex) Ovechkin, so it’s just a fun team to watch and has been for a long time. So I’ve been pretty familiar with the people here and how they play,” Niskanen said, per the Monumental Network.

The Capitals’ core of forwards is a big part of what convinced him that this team was capable of competing for the Stanley Cup despite their previous shortcomings.

The fact that they hired head coach Barry Trotz and assistant coach Todd Reirden also peaked his interest. He already had experience working with Reirden in Pittsburgh and Niskanen felt continuing that relationship would be the best way for him to continue his growth after recording 46 points last season.

“That was a big factor, familiarity with (Reirden) … what he’s done for my career, building my confidence, helping me become a better player,” Niskanen said.

Niskanen obviously didn’t have the same kind of relationship with Trotz, but after talking to the bench boss, he was left with the impression that he’ll work well in Trotz’s system.

He also got a chance to speak with Ovechkin and is looking forward to playing alongside him. Niskanen is already used to dealing with star forwards on the ice from his time with Pittsburgh and his goal will be to get the puck to Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as quickly as possible.

“(Ovechkin)’s a force. If he keeps going, if (Trotz) gets everyone on the same page, I think he’ll have another outstanding year,” Niskanen said.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: Blues at Capitals

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:47 PM EST

    Washington Capitals v St. Louis Blues Getty Images

    Watch some hockey before a certain big game.

  2. End nearing? Lightning waive Nabokov

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:39 PM EST

    Evgeni Nabokov, Ben Bishop AP

    Andrei Vasilevskiy gets recalled in his place.

  3. Sens’ Methot may not ever top what he did yesterday

    Feb 1, 2015, 9:37 AM EST

    Marc Methot Chris Terry AP

    A big hip check and three assists from the defenseman.

  4. Video: Niemi robs Toews, Sharks hang on to beat the Blackhawks

    Feb 1, 2015, 1:41 AM EST

    Antti Niemi AP

    Got a little help, too. Quick whistle on Toews chances.

  5. Video: Bickell crushes Hannan, physical play picks up in San Jose

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:07 AM EST

    Bryan Bickell Getty Images

    No call. Got a little testy out there after that hit.

  6. Rask, Bruins complete January with impressive victory against Kings

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:17 PM EST

    Tuukka Rask Getty Images

    Boston maintaining their hold on a Wild Card spot.

  7. Leafs scoring slump hits historical low

    Jan 31, 2015, 10:23 PM EST

    Phil Kessel AP

    Maybe February will be better?

  8. Oilers’ Hall (bone bruise) to sit out versus Flames

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:44 PM EST

    Taylor Hall Getty Images

    Battle of Alberta isn’t what it used to be.

  9. Video: Rangers’ Lundqvist takes puck to the neck

    Jan 31, 2015, 8:57 PM EST

    Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 5.47.56 PM

    Scary moment, but he has stayed in the game.

  10. Wild’s Suter reportedly questionable to play against Canucks

    Jan 31, 2015, 7:43 PM EST

    Boston Bruins v Minnesota Wild

    Starting Sunday, these teams will play each other three times in 16 days.

  11. Loss to Red Wings a ‘wake-up call’ for Islanders

    Jan 31, 2015, 6:19 PM EST

    Jack Capuano AP

    Two losses in a row for the Islanders.

Featured video

Kings come back in third to top Blackhawks
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. E. Malkin (3758)
  2. T. Hall (3106)
  3. S. Crosby (2872)
  4. P. Rinne (2680)
  5. C. Price (2661)
  1. M. Brodeur (2620)
  2. M. Richards (2377)
  3. K. Letang (2274)
  4. K. Okposo (2245)
  5. P. Hornqvist (2066)