The Penguins did a little bit more housekeeping 24 hours before the start of free agency.
The team re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Matt Niskanen to a two-year contract worth a total of $4.6 million. He will have a salary cap hit of $2.3 million. His previous contract had a salary cap hit of $1.5 million.
Niskanen, 25, appeared in 75 games last season, scored 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) and was a plus-9. He averaged 17:56 of ice time.
Acquired from the Stars at the 2011 trade deadline along with James Neal in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski, Niskanen (6-foot, 209 pounds), will become an urestricted free agent in 2014.
According to Cap Geek, the Penguins now have $12.2 million of salary cap space.
EN Says: What a bargain.
Consider this. The Flames just traded for and signed defenseman Dennis Wideman for $5.25 million a season. He was used on the Capitals' third defensive pairing in this past postseason.
The Penguins just re-signed Niskanen, who was primarily a third-pairing defenseman for the Penguins for $2.3 million.
Niskanen improved considerably this past season. When he first came to the Penguins, he was a shell of the player who racked up some impressive offensive totals his first few seasons in Dallas. After some initial struggles at the end of the 2010-11 season following the trade, Niskanen had the benefit of learning the Penguins' challenging system for defensemen in the 2011 offseason and taking a large step forward.
Niskanen is basically what Paul Martin should be. He's hardly spectacular, but he plays a safe, reliable game with very few mistakes. He can do a little bit of everything but nothing on a particularly outstanding clip.
With Zybnek Michalek gone and the Penguins expected to give more opportunities to younger defensemen, expect Niskanen to take a larger role in terms of ice time and as a leader.
(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)