The Pittsburgh Penguins will not re-sign defenseman Matt Niskanen before Jul. 1.
According to Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, the 27-year-old blueliner has reportedly informed Pittsburgh he will make himself available to pickup when free agency commences on Jul. 1.
Matt Niskanen spoke to the Penguins and will make himself available on the free-agent market on July 1st.
— NEIL SHEEHY (@ICEHockeyAgent) June 26, 2014
Pens’ general manager Jim Rutherford stated earlier this week that he didn’t expect to bring Niskanen – as well as Jussi Jokinen – back next season, per Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and it’s now starting to seem that way.
Niskanen is said to be aggressively pursued by the New York Islanders, per Craig Custance and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, and it makes sense, considering the Isles need a frontline defenseman, and they have the cap space to offer a substantial contract.
In 81 regular-season contests last season, Niskanen collected 46 points (10G, 36A) and skated to a phenomenal plus-33 rating. And in 13 playoff games, Niskanen registered nine points (2G, 7A), which was third best on the team.