Matt Niskanen D WAS 2 Months

Part of the reason Matt Niskanen decided to sign a seven-year, $40.25 million contract with the Capitals was the presence of head coach Barry Trotz.

Trotz is very well-respected in hockey circles after the success he managed to achieve during his tenure in Nashville and this was very much part of Niskanen's thought process. "I heard nothing but great things about Barry Trotz and the way things are going there," Niskanen said after signing with the club. In addition, both Brooks Orpik and newly-signed backup goaltedner Justin Peters admitted they were swayed by a conversation they had with Trotz before signing in Washington as free agents.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

Matt Niskanen knows that his new contract carries higher expectations and he feels he will be up for the challenge.

"I've played essentially top-four minutes for 80 percent of the year last year. I had a lot of responsibility and at times I was the oldest defenseman by far on our team and our team had a lot of success," he said. "I had a good year. It definitely was a breakout year, and now the challenge for me is to try to keep moving forward. That's one thing me and Todd [Reirden] talked about, how do you get a little better this week, this season. I look forward to working with him some more." The two of them have a relationship from back in Pittsburgh. Niskanen amassed 10 goals, 46 points and a plus-33 rating in 81 games last season.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

Washington assistant coach Todd Reirden had a lot to do with the team's signing of Matt Niskanen.

Before joining he Capitals, he was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins so he is very familiar with Niskanen. "We've scouted Matt for a long time too," GM Brian MacLellan said. "We had some questions on this is a big year for him, he had a good year, he had a good year two years ago, but Todd Reirden our defense coach had a lot of input on why his game was where it is and why he believed it would stay at this level. So we trusted Todd's opinion on that." Niskanen enjoyed a career year offensively with the Penguins last season and he was the top free agent defenseman on the market.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months1 Comment

The Washington Capitals have locked up Matt Niskanen to a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million.

"We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington," said GM Brian MacLellan. "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." He racked up 10 goals and 46 points in 81 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Niskanen will add another weapon to Washington's top-raked power play.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

The Washington Capitals are one team that's showing interest in UFA Matt Niskanen.

The Capitals need help on their blueline and Niskanen is a good puck moving defenseman. The problem could be the length of the contract as Niskanen could get seven years from one team and the Capitals may not want to go more than five. It should be interesting as free agency starts Tuesday at noon Eastern.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

Matt Niskanen will test the free agent market on July 1.

His agent, Neil Sheehy made the announcement on Twitter after his client spoke with the Pittsburgh Penguins about the decision. GM Jim Rutherford expected this to happen, so it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Niskanen will be the best blueliner available on the open market, so he should be able to land a hefty contract.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

Matt Niskanen "loves Pittsburgh" and he hasn't ruled out returning, according to agent Neil Sheehy.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford doesn't expect to re-sign Niskanen prior to the start of free agency, but the defenseman hasn't closed the door completely. However, it should be noted that the two sides aren't talking about an extension right now. Niskanen is still waiting to see who the Penguins hire as their next head coach.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford doesn't think he'll be able to re-sign Matt Niskanen.

That's not surprising given that Niskanen will be the best defenseman available on the unrestricted free agent market. That puts him in a great position when negotiating with the Penguins and seeing as they're in a tough cap situation as it is, the Penguins probably couldn't afford to give him anywhere near market value.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 3 Months

Matt Niskanen, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent, will pay close attention to the Penguins' hunt for a new head coach.

Niskanen was close with recently fired bench boss Dan Bylsma. "Dan being dismissed won't affect my decision," Niskanen said. "However, I will pay attention to what the coaching staff is going to look like. It's not the only factor in the decision. But it is a factor." He might end up commanding a salary of around $7 million annually on the open market, which would probably price the Penguins out anyways.

Matt Niskanen D WAS 4 Months

The Detroit Red Wings desire to upgrade their defense might lead them to pursue Matt Niskanen.

Niskanen had 10 goals and 46 points in 81 games in 2013-14 and he's a right-handed shot, which is something the Red Wings are seeking. The problem is, if Niskanen makes it to the free agent market, he'll have plenty of suitors and could end up getting a contract in the $7 million annually range. Although Detroit could conceivably pay that, they typically shy away from high profile free agent bidding wars. On the rare occasions where they did appear to engage in them in recent years, they typically came up short.