Philadelphia Flyers: Matt Niskanen set to retire from NHL

Matt Niskanen, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Matt Niskanen, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

In a surprising move, Matt Niskanen has told the Flyers he will be retiring from the league.

And just went the Flyers were almost set on defense, they get a big blow to their top pairing. Matt Niskanen has informed them that he plans to retire from the NHL.

It comes as a bit of a shock as Niskanen had one year remaining on his contract. If he does indeed file for retirement, he would forfeit the rest of his earnings for next season. That would also take his $5.75M cap hit off the books for the Flyers.

The team could also take a different route if he doesn’t file the papers. Similar to what the Jets did with Byfuglien, they could suspend Niskanen for failure to report. That would leave the door open for a return if he choose to change his mind.

But it appears that Niskanen is sure in this decision as the Flyers apparently asked him to take some time to think about it. And he reportedly stuck with that decision.

That completely changes the teams plans moving forward. It now looks like they will try to re-sign Justin Braun as to not lose two key pieces of the penalty kill. It could also keep Shayne Gostisbehere in Philadelphia.

With Niskanen likely moving on, the Flyers have four NHL defensemen under contract. Philippe Myers is unsigned, but will be back in the fold once they iron out the details. Robert Hagg recently signed his extension and Ivan Provorov is here long term. Travis Sanheim is up for a new deal next year. And Mark Friedman did re-sign with the team as he looks to make the jump as well.

When Myers is signed and if Braun does indeed re-sign, the Flyers would be back to seven defensemen. But with the loss of Niskanen, they might need that insurance on the backend.

The team doesn’t have many options to call up if Friedman does officially become a part of the NHL squad. Egor Zamula and Wyatte Wylie will be entering their first professional seasons.

Matt Niskanen played a big role when it came to helping Provorov turn his game back around. He was far from perfect in the playoffs, but he was an anchor on that top pairing. It has been a long career for the veteran defenseman.

He was drafted by Dallas back in 2005, debuting with the team for the 2007-08 season. The Flyers were his seventh organization in the league. After Dallas, he spent time with Pittsburgh and Washington. With the Capitals, he was a part of the Stanley Cup winning team in 2018.

So he brought a valuable leadership and experience to a young Flyers defense. If this is indeed the end for him, it has been a solid career. In 949 career regular season games, Niskanen posted 72 goals and 356 points. As for his playoff experience, he has six goals and 42 points in 140 games.

The man they called Steady Eddie was exactly that during his NHL career.