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Nisky Business

Why reshaping the Flyers blueline started with Matt Niskanen

by Bill Meltzer @NHLFlyers

The Flyers acquisition of veteran defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday essentially boiled down to these two elements: the organization wants the 32-year-old to be a leader on an essentially young young defense corps while still playing significant minutes both at even strength and the penalty kill.

There is something else that the right-handed blueliner brings along with him to Philadelphia: a recent Stanley Cup ring from a playoff run in which he was a valuable contributor. 

Niskanen, who has averaged north of 20 minutes of ice time per game in each of the last seven seasons while playing for Cup-contending teams in Pittsburgh and Washington, logged a hefty 25:23 TOI average for the Capitals during their successful 2018 run to the Stanley Cup championship.

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5 Takeaways: Fletcher talks MacDonald, Niskanen and more

Flyers contributor gives his take on GM's Conference Call with reporters

by Bill Meltzer @NHLFlyers

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke to the media on Saturday via conference call to discuss the two roster moves the team made over the weekend -- trading Radko Gudas to the Washington Capitals on Friday to acquire Matt Niskanen and, on Saturday, placing Andrew MacDonald on waivers for purposes of buying out the final season of his contract. 

He also provided updates on the status of negotiations with impending unrestricted free agent center Kevin Hayes and the team's cadre of restricted free agents.

Here are five takeaways from the conference call:

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Flyers place MacDonald on waivers for purpose of buy out

Defenseman departs organization after six seasons

by Philadelphia Flyers @NHLFlyers /

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today they have placed defenseman Andrew MacDonald on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract, according to Executive Vice President & General Manager, Chuck Fletcher.

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Flyers acquire D Matt Niskanen from Capitals in exchange for Radko Gudas

Veteran, Stanley Cup Champion joins Flyers blueline

by Philadelphia Flyers @NHLFlyers /

The Philadelphia Flyers announced they have acquired defenseman Matt Niskanen (NIHS-kah-nehn) from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Radko Gudas, according to Executive Vice President & General Manager, Chuck Fletcher.

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Meltzer's 411: Drafting the Trade Winds

A look at the history & frenzy of what could lie ahead on the unofficial trade deadline at the NHL Draft

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The National Hockey League's Entry Draft weekend is one of the pivotal events on the sport's calendar. First and foremost, the Entry Draft itself represents the game's future; the picks will shape the long-term depth of teams' rosters. 

Just as important, Draft weekend has become almost like a "second trade deadline" as teams look either to fill NHL-level needs ahead of the start of the free agency season or to add Draft pick assets. Each year during Draft weekend, there are dozens of trade proposals bandied about -- some that are new proposals, some that are continuations of previous discussions -- although only a minority will culminate in actual trades. 

From a Flyers standpoint, it is impossible to predict whether general manager Chuck Fletcher will pull the trigger on any trades immediately before, during or after Draft weekend. It takes two agreeable sides to make a deal, after all. What is safe to say is that Fletcher will be a very busy man between now and early July. 

Historically, here's a look at what the Flyers have done over Draft weekend -- apart from their Entry Draft selections, except where notable -- from 2007 through 2018. Many of the speculative trades were reported in The Philadelphia Flyers at 50 by Jay Greenberg.

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MELTZER: Negotiating gaze on Hayes

Flyers contributor gives his Hayes take from Fletcher's press conference

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer /

Over the next week to 10 days, there should be more clarity on both sides on the prospects for the Flyers being able to sign pending unrestricted free agent Kevin Hayes. 

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What was said and the significance behind it at the Fletcher/Flahr Press Conference

by Philadelphia Flyers @NHLFlyers /

Executive Vice President/General Manager, Chuck Fletcher and Vice President/Assistant GM Brent Flahr met with the Philadelphia media today to address a number of topics, including preparations for the 2019 NHL Draft Draft, held this year in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The Flyers own nine picks in total, including the 11th overall pick in the first round, which can be seen on NBC Sports on Friday, June 21. Below are a series of quotes to takeaway from the media session, some of which include non-draft topics discussed.

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Meltzer's 411: The Expansion Ahead

Preparations already beginning for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The next National Hockey League Expansion Draft is still two years away. The new Seattle franchise will become the league's 32nd team starting in the 2021-22 season. The new team will play in the Pacific Division, with the Arizona Coyotes moving to the Central Division. Correspondingly, the imbalance of teams in the Eastern and Western Conference will be corrected from the current 16 East/15 West to 16 in both Conferences. 

With the draft still 24 months away, it makes little sense to speculate about the list of players any team will protect or expose to the Draft. The current outlook is bound to change over the next two seasons.

However, it is not too early to go over the rules and strategies that teams employ. 

The rules are identical to the 2017 Expansion Draft, even down to the newest franchise selecting 30 players; one apiece from each of the franchises that existed prior to the 2017 Draft. Although the Vegas Golden Knights will have been around for four seasons by the time the 2021 Expansion Draft, they will be exempt from losing a player in the next Draft.

As with before, teams have two options for crafting their protection list. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight position players (any desired combination of forwards and defensemen) and one goalie. 

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MELTZER'S 411: Drafting Rights

Why certain players have different rights when selected (or not selected) in the NHL Draft

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The National Hockey League's rules for Entry Draft eligibility, duration of hold players' rights, American Hockey League eligibility and the workings of the so-called "Slide Rule" for prospects signed to entry-level contracts make the NHL's system one of the more complicated sets of rules of any pro sport. 

Many casual fans -- and even some in the media -- find the regulations confusing. 

With the 2019 NHL Draft just a few weeks away and the offseason underway for all but the Stanley Cup finalists, here's a basic review of how the various rules work. 

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MELTZER'S 411: The Frenzy that is Free Agency

What could happen during this year's shopping day in the NHL

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

Every year on July 1, there is a frenzy of National Hockey League teams signing unrestricted free agents (UFAs). The most prominent names on the open market frequently -- but not always -- get snapped up on the opening day of "free agency season." 

With each successive day, the volume of signings decreases until it slows to a trickle. 

The deeper into free agency season that it gets, the more the leverage shifts from a seller's market to a buyer's market. By late July and onward into training camp in September, most signings fall in the "bargain" category.

Here is a brief overview of how the process works for both unrestricted and restricted free agents, and the key dates involved:


June 23: The day after the conclusion of the NHL Entry Draft (June 21-22) marks the start of a pre-free agency period in which impending unrestricted free agents are permitted to meet and negotiate with teams other than their current club. Prior to that date, the current team holds exclusive negotiating rights. The open "free agent courting" period at the end of June was created as part of the CBA signed in 2013. Before then, a player's current team had to give permission for a UFA to talk contract with a new team prior to July 1.

The Flyers trade earlier this week that sent a 2019 fifth-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for impending unrestricted free agent center Kevin Hayes transferred the exclusive negotiation window from Winnipeg to Philadelphia. 

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