WINGS VIEWED AMONG TOP LANDING SPOTS FOR NISKANEN?
Agent Neil Sheehy will be meeting with client Matt Niskanen next week to go over Niskanen’s upcoming contract situation. This meeting will involve their strategy towards free agency.
One team the Niskanen camp believes will have strong interest in Niskanen is the Detroit Red Wings and it’s a team believed to be high on Niskanen’s list, a source says.
Niskanen viewed by teams as the top free agent defenseman, is expected to receive multiple offers this summer of over $5 million and his value could push over $6 million.
According to those close to the situation, Niskanen prefers to join a winning, stable franchise and the Wings will be at the top of the list. His first choice, though, would be to resign in Pittsburgh.
I’ve learned this week that former GM Ray Shero engaged in late contract talks with Niskanen’s agent just before the playoffs with discussions going on during the final week of the regular season. I’m not sure an official offer was made but some numbers from the Penguins end were discussed, believed to be under $3.75 million per season with a significant term. The two sides never got close.
As for the Red Wings being a likely top suitor, here’s what Red Wings beat writer Ansar Khan said about Niskanen this week and the Red Wings expected pursuit:
“When the Detroit Red Wings’ front office and scouts gather Monday for their annual pro scouting meetings, they’ll spend a lot of time discussing the merits of Matt Niskanen. One of the Red Wings’ primary needs is a right-handed shooting top-four (or top pair) defenseman who can boost the power play. Niskanen, coming off his best season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, likely is at the top of their wish list. Niskanen is young (27), mobile, moves the puck and can quarterback the power play. If he hits the market on July 1 he’ll be the most sought-after defenseman in a thin free-agent class. General manager Ken Holland, assistant GM Ryan Martin, senior vice president Jimmy Devellano, coach Mike Babcock, Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and the organization’s pro scouts will go over every potential free agent and trade possibility from Monday through Wednesday. The Red Wings will have ample salary-cap space; they’re roughly $20 million under the projected ceiling of $71 million (before signing restricted free agents Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser). How aggressively will they pursue Niskanen? Will they opt to focus on lower-cost, shorter-term alternatives while waiting for some of the young defensemen in their system to reach the NHL?”