Number Five: Defenseman Matt Niskanen
Tying for third amongst active skaters in the plus/minus category (+10), defenseman Matt Niskanen was one of the Pens’ best assets both offensively and defensively for October.
Picking up the slack without defenseman Kris Letang in the lineup for most of the month, Niskanen was an effective insertion to the power play, as well as contributing vastly towards preventing opposing teams’ from scoring.
In the nine games he performed in for the month, he collected eight points (1G, 7A) and currently ranks fifth on the team in scoring.
Speculated to be the outcast at seasons’ end due to an influx of defensemen in the system, the former first-round selection isn’t letting that get in the way of him outperforming other players this season.
Showing little to no ill-effects of the turnovers he squandered last season, Niskanen has taken a more careful approach towards his puck management, and has been a sufficient contributor on the forecheck for the team.
Although he’s still got a long way to go in terms of continuing to prove he belongs here, Niskanen’s month of October couldn’t have been more productive by his standards. Sure he’d probably want to reverse some of the mistakes he made, but that’s every athlete’s prerogative.
While it remains to be seen if Pittsburgh will attempt to retain him following the 2013-14 campaign, his current play is certainly boasting his resume, and the organization has to be pleased.