It wasn’t long ago that Matt Niskanen looked like he might be the odd man out in Pittsburgh. Instead, he’s excelled with six points and a league-leading plus-10 rating in seven contests.
There’s still a lot of season left to go, but it’s starting to look like the Penguins might even want to keep him beyond this campaign. His two-year, $4.6 million contract is set to expire this summer, but the 26-year-old defenseman is very interested in staying in Pittsburgh, to the point where he might take less money to do so.
“It obviously depends on a lot of things,” Niskanen said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But I will say that I put a big emphasis on winning. And this is a good place to be for that.”
Niskanen added, “I think there is a lot to be said for staying put in a place that you like and in a place that likes you.”
If he keeps playing anywhere near his current level, the Penguins will likely have at least some interest in retaining him. However, they would have to squeeze him into what’s likely to be a tight budget. The Penguins already have roughly $54.5 million in cap space committed to 13 players next season, according to Cap Geek.
In other words, how much Niskanen is willing to bend to stay in Pittsburgh is likely to dictate whether or not he stays.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.