Matt Niskanen just got paid — $40.25 million over seven years for the 27-year-old defenseman, by the Washington Capitals.
The biggest deal of today’s free-agent frenzy, in terms of total dollars, comes with a cap hit of $5.75 million.
The size of the contract should come as no shock, really. Among pending UFAs under 30, no d-man was in a stronger position than Niskanen heading into today’s bidding. The right-shooting blue-liner finished 2013-14 with 10 goals and 36 assists for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But the fact the contract was signed with the Caps may have been a slight surprise. Especially after Washington signed veteran d-man Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million deal earlier in the day.
Then again, upgrading Washington’s blue line was what new general manager Brian MacLellan intended to do this offseason. And at the very least, he’s added to it.
“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” MacLellan said in a release. “At 27 years of age, he is just entering his prime for a defenseman. We feel he will be a staple on our blueline for many years to come. We have stated all along that upgrading the defense was our top priority this offseason and we feel we accomplished our goal with our signings today.”
“I can honestly say I was looking for the best hockey fit,” Niskanen told TSN, adding that he’s looking forward to getting Alex Ovechkin the puck, as well as reuniting with assistant coach Todd Reirden.
With the additions of Niskanen and Orpik, one does wonder what the future holds for Mike Green, who’s signed through next season for a cap hit just north of $6 million. Will the Caps explore trading the 28-year-old this summer? The Detroit Red Wings are still searching for a right-shooting d-man, is partly why we ask.