Matt Niskanen
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Matt Niskanen

Matt Niskanen
Matt Niskanen 2018-04-29.jpg
Niskanen with the Washington Capitals in 2018
Born (1986-12-06) December 6, 1986 (age 34)
Virginia, Minnesota, U.S.
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 204 lb (93 kg; 14 st 8 lb)
Position Defense
Shot Right
Played for Dallas Stars
Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals
Philadelphia Flyers
National team  United States
NHL Draft 28th overall, 2005
Dallas Stars[1]
Playing career 2007–2020

Matthew Norman Niskanen (born December 6, 1986) is an American former professional ice hockey defenseman. He played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers from 2007 to 2020.

He was drafted by the Stars in the first round, 28th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Niskanen won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Capitals in 2018.

Early life

Niskanen played ice hockey for Virginia High School in the Minnesota State High School League from 2003 to 2005,[2] and was on the Blue Devils' roster at their first state hockey tournament appearance in 2005.[3] In addition to hockey, Niskanen also played baseball and American football,[4] and appeared in the state quarterfinals for the Mountain Iron-Buhl Rangers nine-man football team in 2004.[3] He chose to commit to hockey after his high school graduation, citing it as his strongest sport.[4]

Playing career

Amateur

Niskanen attended the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). At the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected in the first round, 28th overall, by the Dallas Stars.

In 2005-06, his freshman season for the Bulldogs men's ice hockey team, he recorded 14 points in 38 games. Before that, Niskanen played for the Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl boys' hockey team and helped bring the Blue Devils to their first state high school tournament appearance in school history. During 2006-07, his sophomore season at UMD, he scored 9 goals and 22 assists in 39 games. Niskanen was named to the 2006-07 All WCHA First Team,[5] and the All WCHA academic Team.[6]

Niskanen decided to leave college and turn professional after his sophomore season at UMD.[7] On March 19, 2007, he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Iowa Stars--the Dallas Stars' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate at the time--for the remainder of the 2006-07 season. He later signed a three-year NHL contract with the Dallas Stars which began in 2007-08. He subsequently made the Stars' 2007-08 NHL roster out of training camp.

Professional

Niskanen with the Stars.

Dallas Stars

Niskanen made his NHL regular season debut against the Colorado Avalanche on October 3, 2007 to open the 2007-08 season. He recorded his first NHL points against the Boston Bruins two nights later with two assists. His first NHL goal came on October 29, 2007, against the San Jose Sharks. Niskanen had an excellent rookie start with the Stars, leading the team in plus/minus at mid-season, which resulted in his being invited to the Young Stars game during the 2008 NHL All-Star weekend.

Pittsburgh Penguins

On February 21, 2011, Niskanen was traded (along with teammate James Neal) to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski.[8]

During the 2013-14 season, on March 4, 2014, Niskanen had his first multi-goal game with a two-goal effort in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators away at the Bridgestone Arena.[9] In the final year of his contract with the Penguins and approaching free agency, Niskanen finished the season establishing new career highs in goals (10) and assists (36) for 46 points.

Washington Capitals

On July 1, 2014, Niskanen signed a seven-year, $40.25 million contract as a free agent with the Washington Capitals.[10]

In the 2017-18 season, Niskanen continued to play top-four pairing minutes with the Capitals, posting 7 goals and 29 points in 68 games. He recorded nine points and appeared in all 24 games of the playoffs while logged over 25 minutes of ice time to help the Washington Capitals claim their first Stanley Cup.

Returning for his 12th season in the NHL in 2018-19, Niskanen contributed with 8 goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 80 regular season games for the Capitals. He posted 2 assists in 7 playoff games, unable to help the Capitals defend the Cup in a first-round defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Philadelphia Flyers

On June 14, 2019, with two-years still remaining on his contract, Niskanen was traded by the Capitals to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenceman Radko Gudas.[11] In the 2019-20 season, Niskanen played alongside Ivan Provorov on the Flyers' top pairing and placed second among Flyers defensemen with 33 points in 68 games. On February 21, Niskanen was fined $5,000 USD, the maximum allowable under the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, for a slashing penalty against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist.[12] At the time that the 2019-20 NHL season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Niskanen had recorded 124 hits, 84 blocked shots, and eight goals.[13]

During the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, Niskanen was suspended for one game for a cross-check against Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher that fractured Gallagher's jaw.[14] Niskanen produced one goal and one assist in 15 postseason games for Philadelphia.

With one season remaining on his contract, Niskanen announced his sudden retirement from professional hockey on October 5, 2020, at the age of 33.[15] His agent Neil Sheehy reported that the decision resulted from uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the medical protocols taken by the NHL.[16]

International play

Niskanen has represented the United States at various international competitions at the junior and professional level. His first time representing the United States in international competition was at the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. In 2016, he was chosen to represent the United States in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, along with fellow Capitals John Carlson and T. J. Oshie,.[17]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2003-04 Virginia High School HS-MN 32 24 37 61 28 -- -- -- -- --
2004-05 Virginia High School HS-MN 29 27 38 65 34 -- -- -- -- --
2005-06 University of Minnesota Duluth WCHA 38 1 13 14 40 -- -- -- -- --
2006-07 University of Minnesota Duluth WCHA 39 9 22 31 42 -- -- -- -- --
2006-07 Iowa Stars AHL 13 0 3 3 6 12 2 5 7 10
2007-08 Dallas Stars NHL 78 7 19 26 36 16 0 3 3 10
2008-09 Dallas Stars NHL 80 6 29 35 52 -- -- -- -- --
2009-10 Dallas Stars NHL 74 3 12 15 18 -- -- -- -- --
2010-11 Dallas Stars NHL 45 0 6 6 30 -- -- -- -- --
2010-11 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 18 1 3 4 20 7 0 1 1 0
2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 75 4 17 21 47 4 1 2 3 6
2012-13 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 40 4 10 14 12 15 0 2 2 11
2013-14 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 81 10 36 46 51 13 2 7 9 8
2014-15 Washington Capitals NHL 82 4 27 31 47 14 0 4 4 0
2015-16 Washington Capitals NHL 82 5 27 32 38 12 0 3 3 6
2016-17 Washington Capitals NHL 78 5 34 39 32 13 1 3 4 19
2017-18 Washington Capitals NHL 68 7 22 29 36 24 1 8 9 8
2018-19 Washington Capitals NHL 80 8 17 25 41 7 0 2 2 0
2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 68 8 25 33 29 15 1 1 2 6
NHL totals 949 72 284 356 489 140 6 36 42 74

International

Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
2006 United States WJC 4th 7 0 0 0 6
2009 United States WC 4th 9 1 2 3 2
2016 United States WCH 7th 3 0 0 0 0
Junior totals 7 0 0 0 6
Senior totals 12 1 2 3 2

Awards and honors

References

  1. ^ "NHL Entry Draft Year by Year Results". National Hockey League.
  2. ^ "Matt Niskanen". eliteprospects.com. Elite Prospects. Retrieved 2021.
  3. ^ a b Myers, Jess (November 13, 2018). "NHL: Stanley Cup or no Cup, he's the same 'Nisky'". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved 2021.
  4. ^ a b Burns, Mark J. "A Few Minutes With Matt Niskanen". USA Hockey Magazine. USA Hockey. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ "Niskanen selected to All WCHA First Team". UMD Bulldogs. March 30, 2006. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ "All WCHA Academic Team announced". UMD Bulldogs. April 15, 2006. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ "Matt Niskanen to sign with Stars". Duluth News Tribune. March 20, 2007. Retrieved 2008.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Penguins acquire James Neal and Matt Niskanen from Stars for Alex Goligoski". Pittsburgh Penguins. February 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ "Niskanen powers Penguins past Predators". covers.com. March 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ "Capitals add two Penguins defencemen in free agency". Washington Post. July 1, 2014. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  11. ^ "Flyers acquire Matt Niskanen from Capitals in exchange for Radko Gudas". Philadelphia Flyers. June 14, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ Sportsnet Staff (February 21, 2020). "Flyers' Matt Niskanen fined $5K for slash on Blue Jackets' Gustav Nyquist". Sportsnet. Retrieved 2021.
  13. ^ Meltzer, Bill (April 4, 2020). "Meltzer's Player Profiles: Matt Niskanen". nhl.com. National Hockey League. Philadelphia Flyers. Retrieved 2021.
  14. ^ Carchidi, Sam (August 20, 2020). "Flyers' Matt Niskanen suspended for one game; Habs' Brendan Gallagher out with broken jaw". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2021.
  15. ^ "Niskanen announces retirement from NHL". nhl.com. National Hockey League. October 5, 2020. Retrieved 2021.
  16. ^ Campbell, Ken (October 5, 2020). "Uncertainty Surrounding COVID-19 Led to Matt Niskanen's Retirement". The Hockey News. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2021.
  17. ^ Khurshudyan, Isabelle (May 27, 2016). "Matt Niskanen named to Team USA for the World Cup of Hockey". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021.
  18. ^ "The Washington Capitals, after years of frustration, win the Stanley Cup". The New York Times. June 7, 2018. Retrieved 2018.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Mark Fistric
Dallas Stars first round draft pick
2005
Succeeded by
Ivan Vishnevskiy

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