For many years now, talk of the Bruins acquiring Keith Yandle has been discussed by fans and NHL experts alike. Perhaps this talk emanates from the fact that Yandle hails from Milton, Mass. just outside of Boston, or perhaps it comes from the fact that in previous off-seasons Yandle has been seen working out and skating with Bruins past and present.
Regardless of where this conversation first began, talk of trading for Keith Yandle is back once again.
If you’re one of the ‘hundreds’ of people that follow the Florida Panthers, or even if you’re a hockey fan in general, you’ve probably heard that Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Panthers’ GM Bill Zito and head coach Joel Quenneville. So much so, that there was a significant chance that the Panthers’ were going to make Yandle a healthy scratch for their first game of the year, which would have ended NHL’s longest active ironman streak at 866 games.
You may have also heard that Yandle, who has a no-movement clause in his current contract, maybe willing to waive this right, if a trade to the Bruins was possible (although there are also rumors Yandle blocked a three-way deal that would have seen him end up in Boston or with the New York Islanders).
On the Bruins’ side of things, the first three games of the NHL season, were not pretty as far as goal scoring goes, however their latest game against the Flyers definitely inspired hope that their scoring troubles might have been solved. Despite the Bruins gutsy win against the Flyers, some Bruins’ fans are still hollering at management to make a move to help this team score; even if that means trading for an offensively gifted Keith Yandle.
But is trading for Keith Yandle really going to improve the Boston Bruins? Or could bringing in Yandle (and his substantial contract) hurt the Bruins this year and beyond. According to NHL analyst and former goalie Kevin Weekes the Bruins should be burning “up the phone lines to South Florida!” and bringing “Yands’ home and let him run that (the Bruins) powerplay.” But does it really make sense? Let’s take a look at the arguments for and against trading for Yandle.
Arguments in favor of acquiring Keith Yandle
Keith Yandle could help Boston’s powerplay
Say what you will about Yandle’s work ethic or defensive play, there’s no denying Yandle is an offensive weapon on the powerplay. Over the last 3 years, Yandle has recorded 62 powerplay points, which by the way is the most of any defenseman over that period. Last season’s 21 points helped the Florida Panthers rank 6th in the NHL in PP%.
As the Bruins have not particular looked great on the powerplay thus far (although they are missing their number one goal scorer), and the fact that they lost their powerplay quarterback Torey Krug in the offseason, maybe it does make sense to trade for Yandle.
Yandle is a veteran (left-handed) defender
Two things that Bruins may be lacking on the backend this season are veteran leadership and depth at LD. The 6 defenders the Bruins have played so far combined have an average age of 25.5 years old, and that number includes 33 year old Kevan Miller. Thus far, at least on the defensive side, the B’s young d-men have done an admirable job keeping the puck out of their own net (with obvious credit to Halak and Rask) and have successful killed 16 of 18 penalties.
While this certainly is encouraging, when the games really get important down the final stretch of the season and into the playoffs, the current blueliners will have to prove themselves once again. And if one or two of these players falter it could be a luxury to have a veteran defenseman, who has been there before to fill in.
In addition, when Matt Grzelcyk went down awkwardly with the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle and had to leave the game earlier in the week, Bruins fans quickly realized, if they hadn’t already, how little depth Boston has on their left side of their defense. Adding Keith Yandle, even if he plays on the third pairing, would definitely add some veteran depth to that side of their defense.
If you’re familiar with Keith Yandle, and the teams he’s played for you'd know that he's one of the most liked guys in the league for his colorful character and humorous chirps of opposing players.
He's also got a pretty warm-heart as well as illustrated by some of his off-ice work; like his work raising awareness for breast cancer or his acts to honor the victims of Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
It never hurts to have guys that can lighten up tense moments in the locker room or adds some fun to the game when things aren't going so well.
Arguments against acquiring Keith Yandle
He's not very good at playing defense
Last season, as reported by puckiq.com, despite only spending 21 percent of his total 5v5 ice time against elite competition, and 43 percent against bottom-sixers, advanced stats show Yandle really struggled with career worst CF% (47.78) FF% (47.47%) and an xGA/60 (2.63) among the worst in the NHL for defenders, and when you combine the fact that his team was only expected to score 2.26 goals for every 60 minutes played, and you can start to see an issue with Yandle defensively.
In addition, according to naturalstattrick.com last year Yandle was on the ice for 195 high danger scoring chances, while his team had just 174 high danger scoring chances. And believe it or not, these were good numbers for Yandle, as in the previous three seasons, opponents had much greater high danger scoring chances than Yandle’s team did, while he was on the ice.
Probably the biggest obstacle stopping the Bruins, or really any team from trading for Keith Yandle is his current contract. Including this season, Keith Yandle has 3 years left on a contract that pays him $6.35 million per season. The Bruins do not have the cap space for such a contract at the moment, so any deal for Yandle would have to involve either the Bruins trading players back to clear cap space, or the Florida Panthers retaining some of his annual salary.
Let’s say the Bruins find a way to squeeze Yandle’s contract in, the money spent on Yandle would seriously jeopardize the future signings of players like Tuukka Rask, Brandon Carlo, and Trent Frederic.
Nothing comes for free
Although Yandle appears to be on the outs with Panthers’ management and coaching staff, that doesn’t mean the Cats are going to give away Yandle for nothing. They understand that Yandle still has value to some teams, and would expect at least a decent prospect or pick in return for Yandle; two things the Bruins cannot afford to give away right now.
Even though Yandle brings some intangibles that the Bruins may be missing, the reasons not to bring Yandle to Boston seem more impactful. That being said, if the recent Flyers’ game was an anomaly, and the Bruins continue to struggle to score, bringing in Yandle might become more and more likely with each poor showing.
If you were Don Sweeney would you trade for Keith Yandle?
This poll is closed
Yes, in a heartbeat
Yes, if the Panther’s retained half of Yandle’s salary