I’d say Rangers nation is pretty much split 50-50 on this decision. To be honest, I go back and forth on whether Yandle valuable enough to sign long-term.
On one side of the coin, Keith Yandle is very skilled offensively. He scored 5 goals this season while adding 42 assists. Keith has been influential in activating the blue line offensively, while at times being a spark plug for the otherwise dismal Rangers powerplay. Whether or not this offensive production is worth 6 million for an extended period of time is up to management and your opinion.
The opposite side of the coin is Yandle’s lackluster defensive skill. When a player is talented offensively, they often let the defensive side of the game slip. Yandle was a sloppy -4 this season, who was often found out of position as the opposing team was lighting the lamp. Yandle seemed a bit lost in the system often pinching in at inopportune times, causing odd-man rushes in the other direction. With a Lundqvist who has seemingly come down of his god like pedestal, these odd man rushes were often converted into game changing goals. While an offensively gifted defenseman is normally a huge bonus for a team, I’m not convinced he is the right fit for the Rangers.
For a team who struggled so severely on the defensive side of the puck, the risk taking play of Yandle is not ideal for our top two defensive pairings. While his offensive talent will be missed, the Rangers need to build a more solid defensive game. The quote “Defense wins championships” is not a farce. With a world-class goal tender, the Rangers need to put together a solid defensive core to support the King.
Yandle is 29 years old; not a young chap anymore according to NHL standards. Yandle’s contract that just expired was a 5 years at 5.3 million dollar per. Yandle will likely demand a large contract around 6 million dollar for 4 or 5 years. This price tag is simply just too expensive for the Rangers. The last thing we want to do is overpay for a dwindling defenseman; Hello Wade Redden, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal. If the Rangers were smart they would decide to let Yandle walk, and allow another team to waste big money on a defenseman who is shaky at best defensively. There have been many rumbling of Yandle heading to Boston, but nothing has been set in stone. I’m sure much more about Yandle will surface around draft time. Come July 1, the beginning of free agency, Yandle will be one of the highly coveted targets on the market.
My Final decision would be to let Yandle walk while infusing Skjei and McIlrath into the Rangers defensive core. I would also sign a solid defensive defenseman who can be the 6th/7th defenceman who can be inserted into the lineup of one of the youngsters trembles or if one of the veterans needs a rest.
This coming week should be an exciting one for Ranger fans who are rumored to be very active on the phones prepping for the upcoming NHL draft on Friday. Many trades have been rumored but we shall see what Jeff Gorton has up his sleeve during his first real off season as Rangers GM. Good luck Jeff.
Update: Yandle’s rights have been traded to Florida for a 2016 6th round pick and a conditional 2017 4th round pick if Yandle signs with the Panthers