TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Janne Niskala (YAH-nee NIHS-kah-lah) to a one-year contract, it was announced by owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie. Niskala was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday in exchange for a sixth-round draft choice in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
“We have targeted Janne for some time and we like his ability to contribute offensively,” said Koules and Barrie upon making the announcement. “He has an upside that will be beneficial to the Lightning and we hope he can make our team and improve us on the blueline.”
Niskala, 26, was acquired by Philadelphia last week from Nashville for forward Triston Grant and a seventh-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Vasteras, Sweden recorded 19 goals, 44 points and 81 penalty minutes in 80 regular season games for the Predators’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, this past season. He led Admirals defensemen in goals (19, second among AHL defensemen) and points (44, tied for 11th among AHL defensemen). Though born in Sweden, Niskala is a Finnish citizen and was the leading scorer among defensemen for bronze medal-winning Team Finland at the 2008 IIHF World Championships.Prior to joining the Predators organization for the 2007-08 season, Niskala played parts of the previous seven seasons with teams in top European Leagues, including Lukko Rauma (Finland - 2000-01 through 2004-05), EV Zug (Swiss - 2005-06) and Farjestad (Sweden - 2006-07). He registered 72 goals and 92 assists for 164 points and 369 penalty minutes in 296 regular season games during his final six seasons in Europe (2001-02 through 2006-07). He has led his teams’ defensemen in goals in each of his past five seasons. He led Swedish Elite League defensemen in points with 49 (19-30) in 2006-07. Niskala was drafted by Nashville in the fifth round (147th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.