PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- The Philadelphia Flyers, coming off a run to the conference semifinals, will be without one of their top defensemen going forward. Matt Niskanen has retired.
Enjoy retirement, Nisky! pic.twitter.com/vR8urtklhe
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 5, 2020
The 33-year-old Niskanen was second among the team’s defensemen in points this season tallying eight goals and 25 assists, good for 33 points alongside Ivan Provorov (36 points, 13 G 23 A) on the top defensive pairing. He was part of the team’s power play unit as well tallying four goals and nine assists on the extra man unit.
Acquired from the Washington Capitals in a trade last June, Niskanen has one year remaining on his contract worth $5.75 million. If he were to retire outright, he would be giving up that money and his cap hit would come off the Flyers cap.
If Matt Niskanen were to retire he would forfeit the final $5,750,000 he is owed in 2020-21, and his $5,750,000 cap hit would come off the Philadelphia #Flyers books opening up the full amount in cap space. https://t.co/e4cP9NgMCt
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) October 5, 2020
But, Pierre LeBrun points out that the team could still hold the door open for Niskanen by following the same formula that the Winnipeg Jets did this year with Dustin Byfuglien. Suspend him for failure to report, which would eliminate his cap hold from the team’s books but leave open the possibility of a return.
But if I had to guess, I presume the Flyers would instead suspend him like the Jets did with Byfuglien in order to keep the door open for Niskanen to change his mind next season and maybe re-join the Flyers. As long as Niskanen doesn't file retirement papers https://t.co/pUrXyYK9A3
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 5, 2020
To clarify: if the Flyers go this route and Niskanen does not officially file retirement papers, the Flyers can suspend him for failure to report and his cap hit would not count against the Flyers' books. That's what happened with Byfuglien. https://t.co/OdOcePSOD5
— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) October 5, 2020
A former first-round pick of the Dallas Stars in the 2005 Draft, Niskanen has played 13 years in the NHL split between the Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. He won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.
In the wake of the reports, the team officially announced a contract extension with fellow defenseman Justin Braun. The team now looks to the start of free agency beginning on October 9 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.