Apr 1, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Carolina won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Niskanen says new coach will be a factor in decision to stay

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Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman, Matt Niskanen, stated that the firing of Bylsma will not be a deciding factor in his decision to stay. On the other hand, whoever takes his spot will definitely weigh on his mind despite not being the final thought when making the decision.

“Dan being dismissed won’t affect my decision,” Niskanen said, via Pro Hockey Talk. “However, I will pay attention to what the coaching staff is going to look like. It’s not the only factor in the decision. But it is a factor.”

Niskanen’s free agency will begin July 1. If the Penguins want to keep him on the roster, an agreement will need to be made by then, otherwise it will be difficult to retain the defenseman.

Niskanen has been playing excellent over the past few seasons, and finished sixth in the NHL during the 2013-14 campaign with a plus-33 rating this season. He had 10 goals and 36 assists. Niskanen was drafted by Dallas during the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

“I really enjoyed playing for Bylsma,” Niskanen said. “He gave me a chance to get back on track in my career. I learned a lot from him. I will forever be appreciative of what he meant to me as a player. I’m disappointed like everyone else that we didn’t achieve more, so I understand the change. It’s professional sports, so these things happen all the time.”

Obviously upset about losing Bylsma, Niskanen understands the reasoning behind the decision. It seems that unless someone is brought on board that Niskanen has a history with, it is incredibly likely that Niskanen will be elsewhere next season.

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