Matt Niskanen
Image: NHL

Matt Niskanen


Mountain Iron Minnesota

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1st round (28th overall), 2005


194 lbs.

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Niskanen carried Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl into the Class A state tournament and seemed to rarely leave the ice for the Blue Devils. The Minnesota-Duluth recruit was a Mr. Hockey finalist, and was named to the AP All-State first team. Niskanen played on the 2003 US U-18 Select Team and was a standout at the Minnesota Ted Brill Great 8 Festival. Niskanen is not only talented on the ice, but was also a four-time all-conference pitcher and infielder for the baseball team. He is also the first player to double as the Duluth News-Tribune's player of the year for hockey and football, where he played quarterback.

2006-07: This season Matt Niskanen established himself as one of the nation’s premiere offensive defensemen. After posting 14 points in his rookie season at Minnesota-Duluth last year, Niskanen more than doubled his offensive output this year. The Mountain Iron, MN native finished second on the Bulldogs team in scoring with 31 points (nine goals, 21 assists) playing in all 39 games this season. His 31 points and nine goals both ranked second in the WCHA among defensemen. His 31 points and 0.79 points per game both ranked tied for ninth in the nation. Where Niskanen proved to be especially dangerous was on the UMD power play. Of his nine goals, seven came on the man-advantage. Niskanen capped his sophomore campaign with a selection to the All-WCHA First Team.


Talent Analysis

Niskanen is a player who is blessed with great hands and tremendous offensive abilities. He has great poise and patience with the puck and has been that he can also be quite creative with it. Niskanen is an agile skater. He combines smoothness with a good burst speed and transitions remarkably well. He moves with the puck very well and can make some beautiful tape-to-tape passes. He has a very good shot with a quick release and has no trouble getting pucks to the net. Niskanen is a very smart player with good hockey sense. One area where he has noticeably matured has been in his sense of knowing when to join the play. In his sophomore season Niskanen made great progress in his positional play, paying greater attention to his defensive responsibilities.



Niskanen is a regular in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup and a bona fide NHL defenseman.