Believe it or not, this is not an article from 2012. Rumors broke earlier in the week that the Florida Panthers and veteran defenseman Keith Yandle are headed for a spilt after the organization decided to take their defense corps in a different direction. After adding the likes of Radko Gudas, MacKenzie Weegar, Noah Juulsen, and Markus Nutivaara there is no room for the 34-year-old on the blue line anymore.
Yandle, the NHL’s reigning ironman, has played 866 consecutive games dating back to his days with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Rumors of his potential landing spots gained a bit of traction on Thursday when Andy Strickland reported that the Philadelphia Flyers joined the Boston Bruins as potential suitors for Yandle if a deal were to get done, and from a Flyers’ perspective, that raised a few eyebrows.
When the rumors hit Twitter, the always accepting Flyers fans were quick to shoot down any interest in a potential deal. “34-year-old on a big contract? No way!” But the reality is this may not be a situation that is so cut and dry.
When news broke the day before the entry draft that Matt Niskanen retired, it was widely speculated that the Flyers would make a move to address his absence. While that never really ended up happening, just signing reclamation project Erik Gustafsson to a one-year deal, they opted to roll with the same motley crue they had the previous season. Maybe Fletcher is having some second thoughts about not adding a veteran player to the lineup?
Yandle, who has three years left on a deal that pays him $6.35 million a season with a full no movement clause, wouldn’t be an easy add for the cash-strapped Flyers, but if the Panthers are serious about moving him, maybe there is a deal to be had.
There are a few players the Flyers are going to desperately try to get rid of over the next year or so due to the upcoming contracts of some of the team’s young stars like Carter Hart, Travis Sanheim, and Joel Farabee. Among the names would be defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and forward James Van Riemsdyk.
If the Panthers wanted Gostisbehere, which seems unlikely given their packed blue line, the cash would need to work out on both ends, which could get tricky. Ghost currently has three seasons left on a deal that pays him $4.5 million a season, while the Flyers as a whole have a shade over $1.3 million in cap space available. So a one-for-one clean swap can’t happen. For the trade to be considered a “win” for the Flyers, they would need Florida to take the entirety of Ghost’s $4.5 million and eat half of Yandle’s $6.35 for the deal to be beneficial. That would open $1.32 in much-needed cap space for the Flyers, though that is another deal that seems impossible given the Panthers only have $1.327 million in cap space left, which would leave the Panthers with only a couple hundred thousand dollars in cap, a situation the Cats probably wouldn’t want to put themselves in.
The other option is JVR, who has three years left at $7 million average. But just like Ghost, the money would be tight for Florida. If it was a straight up deal, The Flyers would clear $650K in cap space. That’d be about all they could get, as that 650,000 would eat up much of Florida’s $1.3 million in cap space. It’d be a good way for the Flyers to ditch JVR’s awful contract, but is Yandle’s deal much better?
Swapping two bad deals would open up $650K in cap space for the Flyers, but they would also be adding a player who holds a no movement clause and may refuse to waive his NMC for the Seattle expansion draft. That being said, moving on from JVR would open a roster spot for prospect Morgan Frost, who is currently on the outside looking in due to an overcrowded forward group.
If there were a deal to be made, obviously there would be some monetary hoops to jump through, but there are a few reasons to believe Yandle could be on the Flyers radar. He has a close bond with forward Kevin Hayes and has played with Alain Vigneault during his two-year stint with the Rangers. At this point in his career, Yandle, 34, who has 976 games under his belt, is looking for a Stanley Cup as his career starts to wind down, and it’s hard to ignore what’s going on in Philly.
Does a deal end up happening? It seems unlikely, but when there’s smoke there’s fire and there are more than a few keys that tie Yandle to Philly. It may have to be apart of a bigger deal to make the money work, but Yandle’s production, even at his age, is hard to ignore. He’s put up at least 45 points every season for the past five years, including a 62-point campaign during 2018-19. Not to mention he’s still a beast on the powerplay, regularly reaching or eclipsing 20 powerplay points a season. His no movement clause could be tricky for the Flyers due to the upcoming expansion draft, but if his presence gives the Flyers a better chance to win, Chuck Fletcher may pull the trigger in the name of a Stanley Cup victory.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sun-sentenial.com