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June 14, 2019

Flyers trade Radko Gudas to Capitals for defenseman Matt Niskanen

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Matt-Niskanen_061419_usat Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Former Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen during a recent game against his new team.

Before Friday, Flyers fans probably didn't like Matt Niskanen very much — but that's to be expected, considering the veteran defenseman has spent the majority of his playing career with two of Philly's biggest rivals, the Capitals and Penguins.

Now, however, the Flyers faithful will likely have a change of heart, as the team announced that they have traded Radko Gudas to Washington in exchange for Niskanen. 

“We're very happy to have Matt join the Flyers," said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “He is a veteran right-shot defenseman who has a track record of success as a Stanley Cup champion. Having played heavy minutes in all situations throughout his career, Matt will be a steadying influence to our talented and young group of defensemen.”

But Gudas, who spent the last four seasons in Philly, isn't entirely gone, as the Flyers will reportedly eat 30 percent of his contract next season. 

Here's more on what it means for the Flyers' salary cap situation from broadstreethockey.com:

This move will decrease the Flyers’ total cap room by $2.4 million dollars at the moment, as they will take on Niskanen’s $5.75 cap hit which lasts until after the 2020-21 season. The Flyers will also retain 30% of Gudas’ salary, which amounts to just above $1 million dollars.  [broadstreethockey.com]

Gudas, who came from Tampa Bay in the Braydon Coburn trade, was arguably the Flyers best defenseman last year and the team's Barry Ashbee award for his play on the blue line. He was second on the team in plus/minus (+6) to only Claude Giroux and was the only full-time Flyers defenseman to finish the season with a positing number in that category. In his four seasons in Philly, Gudas played in 290 games, recording 73 points (17 goals, 56 assists) and 355 penalty minutes. 

Niskanen, 32, recorded 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 80 games for the Capitals last season, his 12th in the NHL and fifth in Washington, where he was a member of the Caps' 2017-18 Stanley Cup championship team. During that Cup run, Niskanen notched a goal an eight assists while playing in all 24 of the Capitals’ postseason games.  

Here's more on Niskanen's career from the Flyers' press release:

Niskanen’s career has included five seasons in Washington and parts of four seasons in both Dallas and Pittsburgh.  He was drafted by Dallas in the first round (28th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and joined the Stars at the start of the 2007-08 season, averaging 20:30 per game as a rookie while picking up 26 points and a plus-22 rating to help Dallas reach the Western Conference Finals.   

On February 21, 2011, Niskanen was traded by Dallas to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with James Neal in exchange for Alex Goligoski. Niskanen contributed 19 goals and 66 assists for 82 points in 214 games for the Penguins, including a career-high 10 goals, 36 assists and 46 points in the 2013-14 season.  He signed with Washington as a free agent on July 1, 2014. 

Over his 881-game career, Niskanen has scored 64 goals and added 259 assists for 323 points.  He has a career plus-minus rating of plus-97 and is plus-107 over the past eight seasons. Niskanen has averaged 20:50 of ice time per game over his career, and averaged 22:46 during his five campaigns in Washington. He has an additional 125 career games of experience Stanley Cup Playoffs, with five goals and 35 assists for 40 points in the postseason. 

And here's a look his stats, courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.

Season Tm GP G A PTS +/- PIM
2007-08 DAL 78 7 19 26 22 36
2008-09 DAL 80 6 29 35 -11 52
2009-10 DAL 74 3 12 15 -15 18
2010-11 TOT 63 1 9 10 -3 50
2010-11 DAL 45 0 6 6 -1 30
2010-11 PIT 18 1 3 4 -2 20
2011-12 PIT 75 4 17 21 9 47
2012-13 PIT 40 4 10 14 4 12
2013-14 PIT 81 10 36 46 33 51
2014-15 WSH 82 4 27 31 7 47
2015-16 WSH 82 5 27 32 10 38
2016-17 WSH 78 5 34 39 20 32
2017-18 WSH 68 7 22 29 24 36
2018-19 WSH 80 8 17 25 -3 41
5 yrs WSH 390 29 127 156 58 194
4 yrs DAL 277 16 66 82 -5 136
4 yrs PIT 214 19 66 85 44 130
Career 12 yrs 881 64 259 323 97 460


MORE: Flyers trade fifth round pick for winger Kevin Hayes


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