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The Case for trading Keith Yandle

Bobby Bevilacqua

keith yandle profile good pic 1-5

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

When the Rangers sent away draft picks and Anthony Duclair to the Arizona Coyotes, they acquired Keith Yandle, one of the most talented offensive defensemen in the entire NHL. The price was high, but he helped the team during their playoff run as well as shouldering heavy minutes while other players were injured.

In the year he’s been here, Yandle has delivered, showing off his elite level skills and driving possession while generating the most amount of offense from the blueline than any other player. Yandle leads the team in assists (31), he’s third on the team in points (35) and first among all defensemen, and he’s tied for second on the team in power play points with 12.

Despite everything that he has shown, and all of the offense he’s provided, Alain Vigneault continues to bury him on the third pairing when all six defensemen are healthy. When Ryan McDonagh was injured and Keith Yandle was on the top pairing, he was regularly getting 22 to 25 minutes of ice-time a night and playing extremely well.

Yandle was elevating the play of his partner, Dan Girardi, and picking up points almost every single night. Including a five game point streak, Yandle has tallied seven points in the last nine games, 10 points in the last 15 games, and 12 points in the last 18 games. The increased ice time meant increased offensive production, both at even strength, on the power play, and among the forwards.

But since Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup for the last two games, Yandle has seen his ice-time diminish. He hasn’t hit 17 minutes of ice time in each of the last two games and has played less than guys like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and even Dan Boyle at times, all of who haven’t come close to the level of play of Yandle lately. Boyle and McDonagh even had more power play ice time than Yandle in the game against St. Louis, despite Yandle being the most productive power play point man.

And get this. When Brady Skjei was recalled to play against the Devils on February 23rd, he wound up playing more than Keith Yandle. Skjei actually led all New York defensemen in ice time. Granted, Skjei played very well, but why does Alain Vigneault trust a rookie playing in his third NHL game over an established player in Yandle?

I may be one of the biggest Keith Yandle fans out there, but even I realize that using him like this is pointless. Yandle deserves to be on the top pair, and certainly no lower than the second pair, and he deserves to play for upwards of 20 minutes every single night.

Elliotte Friedman has reported that the Rangers already told Keith Yandle that he isn’t being traded. If they don’t move a contract on defense, that also means that they won’t be able to sign him at the end of the season. Trading two draft picks and one of the organization’s best prospects to see Yandle walk after this season would be poor asset management.

The Winnipeg Jets got a first round pick and Marko Dano from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Andrew Ladd. You could argue that Keith Yandle is a more impactful player when used correctly and given more minutes at even strength and on the power play.

It was rumored that the Dallas Stars really want Keith Yandle to bolster their defensive group, and potentially even partner with John Klingberg. The Stars were also said to be willing to trade Valeri Nichushkin, a promising young Russian prospect.

Assuming the Rangers could get Nichushkin (upcoming RFA) and at the minimum, a second round draft pick, why wouldn’t you make this trade? Sure, Yandle has been great and will be helpful in the playoffs, but you can’t always think of right now. Eventually, building for the future has to come to mind.

I also have total faith that Brady Skjei could come in and play a third pair role for the rest of the season. In two of his three games, he’s been excellent, and his skill set translates to the NHL very well.

Also, recuperating draft picks and getting new prospects or cost-controlled young talent would be extremely helpful for right now and for the next few seasons. Yandle is a fantastic player, but letting him walk after this year after trading one of your best prospects would be foolish. It may be smart to try and get something for him now and keep the future in mind.

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Posted on February 28, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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