Washington Capitals: Top 10 best free agents of all-time

Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

#4 Matt Niskanen

Matt Niskanen was signed by the Washington Capitals on July 1, 2014 in one of the first free agent moves by General Manager Brian MacLellan. He brought leadership to the locker room, told the media what was on his mind and what was real regarding the state of the team, and helped strengthen the defense.

Niskanen scored four goals and added 27 assists for 31 points in his first season with the Caps. His next season saw him score five goals and 27 assists for 32 points. In 2016-17 Niskanen had five goals and 34 assists for 39 points.

In the Stanley Cup winning season of 2017-18, Niskanen recorded seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points before recording eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points his final season in D.C. He later got traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Radko Gudas then hung his skates after the pandemic shortened 2019-20 season.

When the Caps signed Niskanen in 2014, they inked him to a seven year deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $5.75 million. While he isn’t the best offensively he is a shutdown defenseman who is effective on the penalty kill as well.

Niskanen spent five seasons with the Caps and recorded 156 lints in 390 games with 29 goals and 127 assists. He also had 579 total blocks and 731 hits.