By PowerPlayCJ @powerplaywithcj on June 10, 2014
After spending most of the last four seasons in Pittsburgh, Matt Niskanen is now a free agent and will be hitting the open market for the first time. In a free agent class that lacks high end defensemen, Niskanen will be a very sought after commodity. Teams will be lining up to sign the Minnesota-Duluth product, and these five are the best fits for both sides.
After trading for Dan Boyle, who wants nothing to do with the Isles, pursuing Niskanen makes all the sense in the world. With the young talent on the roster coupled with the Jaroslav Halak acquisition, the Islanders are going towards contention and still have plenty of cap room to spend. Signing Niskanen would be a wise move that elevates the Islanders’ blue line to help.
Niskanen was traded away from the Dallas Stars four years ago, but don’t rule out a return to ‘Big D’. Dallas is a team on the rise, and pairing Niskanen with Alex Goligoski would be a great power play duo. The Stars have cap room and given Niskanen’s familiarity with the team, a return to Texas could be beneficial to everyone.
The Edmonton Oilers are a mess, but Niskanen could help rectify the situation. His veteran “know how” and ability to play heavy minutes in all situations would a godsend on Edmonton’s weak blue line. While Niskanen wouldn’t fix all of Edmonton’s problems, he’d be a definite upgrade over anything they have on the blue line now.
While Niskanen would surely love to stay on a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the salary cap and changes within the Pens' organization make this tough. Pittsburgh’s best hope is to sign Niskanen before he can get to the open market in July.
The Detroit Red Wings have lacked a No. 1 defenseman since Nick Lidstrom retired, and while Niskanen is nowhere near the same class as Lidstrom, his presence would be a major shot in the arm for the Wings. With Detroit in a transition, having a young veteran like Niskanen would help keep the team’s youth movement while keeping the team’s playoff streak alive.
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