Today in NHL news the Washington Capitals have traded veteran defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Radko Gudas.
This trade comes at a time where the Capitals are looking to shed some salary going into the offseason so they can re-sign players and take a look at who they may have interest in going into July 1st with free agency opening up.
For the Capitals they send Niskanen to Philadelphia with two years left on his contract with an AAV of $5.75 million, and in return receive Gudas who has one year left on his deal with an AAV of $3.35 million, but as part of the trade the Flyers retain 30% of his salary which would shed $1.005 million from his cap hit helping the Capitals clear $3.405 million in cap space with this trade.
Now looking at this trade in-depth a little bit more outside of contracts and salary cap space, we take a look at what both players bring to the table for their new respective teams starting off with Matt Niskanen going to the Flyers.
Now with Niskanen going to the Flyers, he will add a veteran presence on the blue line that will help elevate their very young core that features Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Sam Morin, all of which are players born no earlier than 1993 (Average age is 24 years old amongst the five defensemen). Niskanen having won the Stanley Cup in 2018 with the Capitals will bring valued knowledge and experience to the Flyers dressing room as well, and will be used to help mentor the young defense on how to handle those high pressure situations. So for the Flyers, getting a skilled veteran defenseman who has a Cup is very valuable to this young team. Plus as Niskanen admitted in his conference call today, he may not be a number one defenseman anymore, but he sees himself as a really good support piece for the Flyers, and that he can still play top four minutes.
Now for the Washington Capitals and the addition of Radko Gudas, they are picking up a solid defensive defenseman that was single handedly the Flyers best defenseman all season long. With Gudas you’re going to get a lot of grit and a lot of hits. Some of which has landed Gudas in trouble with NHL Player Safety, but overall Gudas will be a really good fit for the Capitals. Having just turned 29 on June 5th, Gudas is younger than Niskanen, 32 turning 33 in December, and can step in and play those top four minutes that Niskanen was playing for the Capitals. Also with the pending departure/retirement of veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik, it is more logical to see Gudas taking Orpik’s place in the lineup over Niskanen’s which some could say was taken care of with the Nick Jensen trade and signing right before the trade deadline.
So if we look at the Capitals defensive pairings, this is what they looked like before Michal Kempny’s leg injury:
John Carlson – Michal Kempney
Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Nick Jensen
With Jonas Siegenthaler and Christian Djoss as spare defensemen, we would see Djoos fall out of favor during the playoffs and Siegenthaler rise during the regular season and again during the 3 games he played in the playoffs. Now with that said, here is what we could see next season for the Capitals defense pairings:
John Carlson – Michal Kempny
Radko Gudas – Dmitri Orlov
Nick Jensen – Jonas Siegenthaler
Djoos in my opinion would start the season as the seventh defenseman with Siegenthaler starting the season on the third pairing with Jensen. Now with that said I could easily see Gudas and Jensen flipping spots in the lineup pending on who they are playing or how one of them is performing over the other. Plus we have to put into factor about Kempny and how he will be once he returns from his leg injury, so that will play a factor into things as well. Also Gudas is a guy who we can put onto our penalty killing unit in Orpik’s place given how he plays with that same style as Orpik, and know that he can be relied on in that aspect of the game.
Overall when I look at this trade that swaps Niskanen with Gudas, it makes a lot of sense in several aspects both on and off the ice. The Capitals get some cap space relief, while also getting a solid defensive defensman in Gudas, and at the same time the Flyers get a Stanley cup champion who can help elevate their young defensive core and take them to the next level. So overall a solid trade for both teams.
And lastly to end this piece, the Capitals said it best on Twitter today: