Flyers land Matt Niskanen, send Radko Gudas to Capitals in swap of defensemen

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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