Instant Analysis: Flyers Acquire Matt Niskanen from Capitals

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs
Feb 21, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) shoots the puck during the warm up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers have acquired 32-year-old defenseman, Matt Niskanen, from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Radko Gudas. In addition to obtaining Niskanen, the Flyers will retain part of Gudas’s salary for the 2019-20 season.

Niskanen has played 12 seasons in the NHL, the last five with the Capitals. Last season he recorded eight goals and 17 assists in 80 games. Over the past 12 seasons, he has played 881 regular season games and recorded 323 points. Additionally, he has appeared in 125 Stanley Cup Playoff games and posted 40 points.

In regards to acquiring Niskanen, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher stated,
“He is a veteran right-shot defenseman who has a track record of success as a Stanley Cup champion. Having played heavy minutes in all situations throughout his career, Matt will be a steadying influence to our talented and young group of defensemen.”

At first glance, this trade is a bit head-scratching. Niskanen is not only older than Gudas but is also on the books another season with a $5.75 million cap hit and a modified no-trade clause. As far as on-ice performance, there isn’t much of an upgrade either. Honestly, it can be argued that this is not an upgrade at all. The only noticeable thing Niskanen has over Gudas in playoff experience and success.

Although trading for Niskanen is indeed bringing in a new presence on the blueline, it really does not move the needle forward. The Flyers still need to search for an upgrade to their top-four. The only hope is that Fletcher does not feel he has done so with this trade.

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports