In a stunning turn of events, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen has decided to retire from the NHL. Niskanen has one year remaining on his current contract and was due $5.75MM this season. That number will be removed entirely from the Flyers books, meaning they have some extra cap space to spend this offseason.
Friedman adds that the Flyers are working on re-signing Justin Braun, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Niskanen’s retirement would move his cap hit off the books entirely, giving the team more room to maneuver this offseason.
The 33-year-old Niskanen was still a very effective player for the Flyers this season, pairing often with young star Ivan Provorov and logging big minutes for the team. In 68 games, Niskanen actually recorded 33 points, the fourth-highest total of his career and most in one season since 2016-17. Not only was he signed for another year, but he also appeared to have plenty of hockey left in him.
Taking $5.75MM off the books does have its benefits though, as the Flyers attempt to tweak a roster that came within a game of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. There is plenty of young talent on the defensive side of the puck, but the team could use some more scoring punch upfront. That’s likely exactly why the Flyers recently spoke with the Winnipeg Jets about Patrik Laine, a discussion that LeBrun believes both teams will circle back to at some point. With a chunk of cap space now freed up, perhaps that conversation takes place once again.
For Niskanen, it has been a very successful career including a Stanley Cup championship in 2018 with the Washington Capitals. The physical, two-way defender skated in a total of 949 regular season games and registered 356 points. He also racked up more than 1,500 hits and 1,100 blocked shots, laying his body on the line every night. If he’s hanging them up, it’s been a good run.