Skip to content

Coaches, Ovechkin influenced Niskanen in picking Caps

Jul 12, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

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. Red Wings’ biggest question: goaltending

    Aug 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    howardmrazekgetty Getty Images

    Can Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get it done, collectively?

  2. Caps GM provides positive injury updates for Backstrom, Orpik

    Aug 4, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v Washington Capitals Getty Images

    The skilled Swede may or may not be ready to start the season.

  3. Looking to make the leap: Dylan Larkin

    Aug 4, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT

    Dylan Larkin Getty Images

    He’s already made a positive impression on Jeff Blashill.

  4. Under Pressure: Jeff Blashill

    Aug 4, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwfin2ixyjjjywfizwyynmm3n2fkyjmwztaynmzly2y1 AP

    Mike Babcock’s act is a tough one to follow.

  5. It’s Detroit Red Wings Day at PHT

    Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Petr Mrazek AP

    The book has closed on the Mike Babcock era.

  6. Avs-Red Wings alumni game to feature Sakic, Forsberg, Shanahan, Lidstrom

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    2011 NHL Entry Draft - Round One Getty Images

    The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002

  7. Sharks re-sign Aaron Dell after strong AHL campaign

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Aaron Dell Getty Images

    He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.

  8. What does Jack Eichel mean to the Buffalo Sabres?

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?

  9. MacLellan doesn’t think summer additions have to take from Johansson

    Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Johansson Getty Images

    He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.

  10. Buffalo Sabres ’14-15 Outlook

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    MATT MOULSON AP

    Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.

  11. Poll: How soon will the Sabres make the playoffs?

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Tim Murray, Jack Eichel AP

    Pondering a rebuilding process that took a leap.

  12. Sabres’ biggest question: Defense

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner AP

    Perhaps you can broaden this to “keeping the puck out of their net.”

  13. NHL ordered to turn over concussion data as part of lawsuit

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Beyond Sport United 2015 Getty Images

    The league estimates such a process could cost about $13.5 million.

  14. Looking to make the leap: Sam Reinhart

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Sam Reinhart Getty Images

    In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?

  15. Under Pressure: Robin Lehner

    Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Robin Lehner, AP

    This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.

  16. It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150803-Jack-Eichel2 Getty Images

    The worst should be behind them.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Stepan (1681)
  2. N. Bonino (1347)
  3. J. Toews (1330)
  4. E. Fehr (1307)
  5. B. Gionta (1261)