No surprise here, but it’s now official: Matt Niskanen is headed to free agency.
That’s what his agent, Neil Sheehy, confirmed on Thursday, explaining that the Pens’ blueliner spoke with the team and informed Pittsburgh that he’ll be testing the UFA market on July 1.
Niskanen figures to be a highly sought-after commodity. Coming off a year in which he scored a career-high 10 goals and 46 points, Niskanen — who finished 11th in Norris voting — is reported to be high on the wish lists of the Islanders (see here), Red Wings (see here) and Wild (see here), to name a few.
Just 27 and a right-hand shot, Niskanen should get a significant pay bump from the $2.3 million he earned annually on his last deal. That was a very cost-effective deal for Pittsburgh, especially given the production he provided in ’13-14; as such, new Pens GM Jim Rutherford admitted it would be difficult to keep Niskanen in the fold.
Niskanen has been with the Penguins since the 2010-11 campaign, when he was acquired as part of the James Neal-Alex Goligoski swap. No Pittsburgh blueliner has played more games over the last three years (196) and only one — Kris Letang — has scored more points than Niskanen’s 81.
Alex Burrows doesn’t want a trade out of Vancouver and he wants to make sure everyone knows it.
On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman reported that Burrows was potentially willing to waive his no-trade clause if a deal came up.
When asked about the report, Burrows went into denial mode.
“There’s no truth to that,” Burrows told beat reporter Ben Kuzma. “I’ve never talked to management or coaches about it.
“Last time I talked to my agent was to wish him Merry Christmas.”
Whether or not Burrows is willing to accept a deal out of Vancouver may be irrelevant.
The 34-year-old has seven goals and 16 points in 53 games this season, and he comes with a cap hit of $4.5 million dollars next season.
That’s pretty steep for a guy who’s on pace to score just 25 points this year.
If the Canucks want to find a taker for his services (assuming he’s willing to go), they’ll likely have to take a good-sized contract back or they’ll have to eat some of his remaining salary.
It makes sense that a swift bit of history happened in a game in which three goals were scored scored on three shots in about three minutes.
Brad Marchand found the net eight seconds in after an icing call, setting a new record for the Boston Bruins.
(You can see that goal in the video above.)
Watch that three-goal burst in this video:
The two teams weren’t done then. Loui Eriksson made it 3-1 while Pavel Datsyuk scored his 900th point to make it 3-2.
Maybe the best moment wasn’t a goal: Torey Krug was seemingly hurt by a Pavel Datsyuk hit, yet he returned without missing much time.
When the New Jersey Devils shut down a team 1-0, it’s usually with Cory Schneider in net.
Their workhorse got the afternoon off against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, yet Keith Kinkaid did his Schneider impression, grabbing his first NHL shutout in the process.
It was a low-event game with just 46 combined shots on goal, but Kinkaid had to work, stopping all 28 shots. To give you an idea of how tight this game was, the only tally was credited to David Schlemko on the power play.
This gives the Devils three straight wins. They managed to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New Jersey’s edge is a little misleading; the Islanders trail them by one standings point while holding three games in hand.
That leaves the Islanders in the bottom wild card spot, while the Penguins aren’t so far behind either.
Third in Metro: Devils – 65 points with 57 games played
Second wildcard: Islanders – 64 points, 54 GP
First spot outside the East playoffs: Penguins – 63 points, 54 GP
So, the Devils’ hold of a playoff spot is a bit tenuous, yet the bottom line is that they’re staying in the mix.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain comfortably in first in the Pacific.
The Boston Bruins (without Patrice Bergeron) take on the Detroit Red Wings (missing Jonathan Ericsson) on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a matchup between the second-ranked and third-ranked teams in the Atlantic Division, with little separating the two in the standings.
You can watch the game on NBC and also stream it online via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE