This season’s blueline has stirred many rumors and conversations, and for good reason. Fans all over twitter are asking, “What’s Chuck going to do next?” It seems like the Flyers GM has some tricks up his sleeve, and fans everywhere are trying to figure out what he has planned for this 2019-20 season.
One of the biggest changes to the team this offseason is the reconstruction of the blueline. While keeping some phenomenal players, the team has two great new additions to defense, Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen. Both defensemen come with a lot of promise this season.
The San Jose Sharks traded Braun in exchange for the Flyers second-round pick (41st overall 2019 draft) and third-round pick for the 2020 draft. After this season, Braun will become an unrestricted free agent.
With a career total of 154 points (16 points last season) and a +/- of +24, fans will be pleased to see him on the ice with Philly. In the 2018-19 season with the Sharks, Braun scored 16 points and played in all 20 games of the Western Conference Final. He averaged over 21 minutes of TOI per game. Braun played in 78 games with 14 assists last season. The Flyers are hoping this will be Braun’s “bounce back” year. Being on the ice with players like Sanheim and Provorov, it’s hard to imagine him not having success on this team.
Matt Niskanen has been the conversation of many Flyers and Capitals fans. Niskanen was traded by the Washington Capitals in exchange for Radko Gudas. While many fans were sad to see Gudas go, Niskanen may be exactly what this team needs.
Chuck Fletcher wanted some veteran players to help guide the Flyer’s younger defenseman. He certainly got one of the best men in Niskanen to help the team’s young defensemen. In a statement on Niskanen joining the team, Fletcher stated, “We’re very happy to have Matt join the Flyers. 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.”
Fans have no reason to believe differently. This will be the veteran’s 13th season in the NHL. He appeared in 881 regular-season games, recording 323 points. Additionally, he’s played 125 Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording 40 points. Niskanen also won a Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018. All three teams he has played for have reached Conference Finals (Dallas in 2008, Pittsburgh in 2013, Caps in 2018). Also, has a +/- record of +97. In his 2018-19 season with Washington, he recorded eight goals and 17 assists for a total of 25 points. In addition, he had another two assists in the seven playoff games he appeared in.
Niskanen is a known great skater and someone who knows how to get the puck out of his zone. Line him up with the rest of the Flyer’s defensemen, and this season is sure to be a great one.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports