The Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers may have more in common than you might think. They are going through a transition period of sorts, both breaking in new head coaches.
Florida found their man in Gerard Gallant and the Penguins continue to search for theirs. Though somewhat similar, they have one huge difference – the Penguins have one of the best collections in top end talent the league has to offer.
But if you want to argue in favor of the Panthers, they may have one of the best collections of young players/prospects in the NHL.
While the Penguins struggle to build depth behind their stars, who knows, in five years their roles may be in reverse.
One player that could help them get there is a player who aided the Penguins in their successful regular season – Matt Niskanen.
Recent comments by new Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford paints a small picture into the team’s offseason plans, which likely won’t involve Niskanen.
If the team (Penguins) are able to make some moves to relieve some cap space, they could retain Niskanen but in all likelihood he is likely on his way out as he will be one of the most sought after free agents in the league.
After together a career season the Minnesota born defender is in line for a huge pay day. When the season began, Niskanen looked on his way to playing bottom line minutes until injuries forced him on top pair duties.
Never finishing with more than 35-points in a season, Niskanen bested that with assist alone (36) as well as adding in 10-goals.
The former first round pick also saw an improvement on the defensive side of the puck, making him an ideal target for Dale Tallon and company.
Niskanen brings many things to the table that would improve the Panthers immediately, including a booming shot that earned him the nickname ‘NiskCannon’ in Pittsburgh.
Being a right handed shot gives you a different look on the man advantage, and gives Brian Campbell a new defensive partner take some of the load off.
While he won’t come cheap, making a splash and going after Niskanen will show that the ownership is willing to literally put their money where their mouths are as far as spending.