In today’s world of sports, trades are a common occurrence for teams strapped by financial constraints, and this morning brought this reality front and center when defenseman Matt Niskanen was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for fellow blueliner Radko Gudas, in a move that saved the Caps what will undoubtedly be crucial salary cap space for future moves. However, Niskanen’s departure leaves not only void on the ice, but off it as well.
From the moment he first signed a seven-year, $40.25 million contract with the Capitals in the summer of 2014, Niskanen was nothing but a true professional, in every sense of the word. He gave his best effort on the ice, and was one of the first to be brutally honest when the Caps were struggling, often calling himself and his teammates to be better. He was courteous to members of the media in interviews, and also participated in community activities with the team and interacted with fans after practice. And while he always carried himself with a degree of composure on the ice, he wasn’t afraid to show emotion and enthusiasm when the time and situation warranted.
Niskanen played five seasons with the Capitals, more than he has played with any other organization in his career to this point, and in 390 games played recorded 29 goals, 127 assists, 156 points, and averaged 22:46 of ice time (all the most of any team he has suited up for in his career) while serving as one of the Capitals’ Top 4 defensemen, and was key contributor in the team’s run to the 2018 Stanley Cup championship, recording nine points in 24 games, and averaging 25:23 minutes of ice time en route to lifting his first Stanley Cup.
— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) June 14, 2019
While he may not have finished out the seven years of his contract in a Capitals’ sweater, Matt Niskanen’s arrival to Washington coincided with a run of success and rejuvenation of a franchise that culminated in a Stanley Cup victory and one of the most memorable offseasons fans and players alike will never forget. And while it is said about every player who leaves after a long time with the team, seeing Niskanen in Flyers’ orange and black will certainly look very odd come next season. That said, Niskanen, a true professional, will always have a special place in the hearts of Caps fans and franchise lore alike. Thank You Nisky!
By Michael Fleetwood