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Despite Rangers’ postseason defeat, Yandle trade was worth the price

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers made a gamble when they acquired Keith Yandle, but it paid off, as Sather was able to acquire an elite defenseman in his prime. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Glen Sather, the president and general manager of the New York Rangers, has a knack for making big deals at the trade deadline in an effort to make his team more versatile and balanced. He’s not afraid to take a calculated risk in an effort to obtain these players, trading draft picks and prospects.

On March 1st, Sather sent John Moore, top-prospect Anthony Duclair, a first round pick in either 2016 or 2017, and a second round pick in this year’s draft for Keith Yandle and career AHL defenseman Chris Summers.

Duclair was one of the Rangers best prospects, putting up massive numbers with his QMJHL team, the Quebec Remparts, and playing with the Rangers for 18 games, tallying one goal with six assists. He looked at home with the Rangers, playing pretty well when he was in the NHL.

While it’s obviously not optimal that the Rangers have traded away their first round draft picks (the last first round draft pick for New York was in 2012, Brady Skjei), Sather said that it helps when they sign players like Kevin Hayes, who was in the midst of a 17 goal, 45 point season.

However, the gamble he took to acquire Yandle really paid off. He did everything the Rangers asked of him and more as they finished their climb to the top of the standings, and their run to the Eastern Conference Final.

Yandle fit into Alain Vigneault’s up-tempo system, using his skating abilities to create offensive chances, and sending some pretty spectacular breakout passes to the forwards waiting to rush into the offensive zone. In 21 games with the Rangers, he finished with 11 points (2-9-11), and playing a total of 84 regular season games. He has not missed a regular season game since the 2008-09 season.

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Keith Yandle fit into the Rangers’ defensive group perfectly, and added a touch of offense to the blue line, both at even strength and on the power play. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

What was nice to see was that Yandle was very aggressive, never afraid to throw a hit or get in the middle of a scrum. He had a black and blue below his right eye during the playoffs, wearing it like a badge of courage.

Like many of the other Rangers’ defensemen, Yandle was banged up in the playoffs. After getting hit into the boards by Blake Comeau in Game 2 against the Penguins, Yandle sprained the AC joint in his shoulder.

As the playoffs progressed and he healed, Yandle’s performance improved. He finished with 11 points (2-9-11) in 19 games. He played his best against Tampa Bay, thriving in the speedy style of play from both sides, making smart decisions with the puck, and scoring two goals with five assists in the seven game series.

Yandle proved that he could fulfil the role that the Rangers have for him, and that he can perform in high-pressure situations. He enters next season in the final year of his contract, with the Rangers only taking half of his $5.25 million cap hit, paying him approximately $2.625 million. They’ll probably be looking to sign him to a long-term extension.

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Keith Yandle performed well in the playoffs, proving that he could handle high-pressure situations and still be at his best. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After coming over to New York, being traded for the first time in his career, Yandle reflected on his time with the Rangers.

“It was everything I could have imagined it to be,” said Yandle. “To come in here and be able to play for the Rangers, at MSG, in front of the fans that we have here was something you dream about. It was fun.”

When you evaluate the trade, it’s pretty impressive that Glen Sather was able to acquire an elite puck-moving defenseman without giving up any players off of the roster, and getting the Coyotes to retain half of Yandle’s salary.

While it looks like Duclair could develop into a star, that is only potential.  And speculation. He has a really great skillset, and was praised for his work ethic when he was a Ranger, but he is still learning the game, and some have said that he needs to add bulk to his 5’11”, 177 pound frame.

When you look at Yandle, the Rangers know that they have a durable and reliable defenseman. He is extremely talented, and has a knack for moving the puck and generating offense. He’s coming off of consecutive 50 point seasons, including a combined 57 points (5-52-57) on the power play over the last two years.

Many people have said that the biggest thing that the Rangers have been missing is a puck moving defenseman who can keep the puck in at the blue line and create lots of offense. The team has been missing that ever since Brian Leetch was traded.

While I’m certainly not saying he is Brian Leetch, I think that Yandle can fill a similar role. Defenseman that can put up 50 points and quarterback the power play are extremely hard to come by, and can provide another dynamic to a team. The Rangers have an elite offensive defender in his prime, and Yandle will really help the team make another run at the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

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Posted on June 9, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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