The Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals have swapped veteran defensemen ahead of the 2019 NHL offseason, with this year’s Metropolitan Division champions acquiring Radko Gudas in exchange for Matt Niskanen, a member of their 2018 Stanley Cup championship team.
A physical presence on Philadelphia’s blue line since the Flyers landed him in their 2015 Braydon Corbon trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gudas exercised more discipline in 2018-19 en route to the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the team’s top defenseman, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, finishing with the fifth-most hits in the NHL.
Despite being older and more expensive, Niskanen figures to offer the Flyers a higher ceiling, not to mention serious Stanley Cup playoff experience and a reputation as a locker-room leader. From the Capitals’ perspective, the departure of Niskanen and his $5.75 million 2019-20 salary cap hit will offer much-needed financial flexibility.
“We’re very happy to have Matt join the Flyers,” Philly general manager Chuck Fletcher said through a team release. “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.”
As part of the swap, the Flyers will reportedly retain 30 percent of Gudas’ remaining $3.35 million salary in 2019-20, his final season under contract. They’ll also take on the remaining two years of Niskanen’s seven-year, $40.25 million deal signed with Washington in 2014.
Originally drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2005, the 32-year-old Niskanen spent just under four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, another Flyers rival, before joining the Capitals. He had eight goals, 25 points and a minus-3 rating this past season but had a plus-24 mark as a piece of the Caps’ Stanley Cup championship run the year before.
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