NHL Trade Ideas: How the Boston Bruins Could Cut a Deal for Keith Yandle

Al DanielCorrespondent IISeptember 4, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Zach Hamill #52 of the Boston Bruins attempts to control the puck under pressure from Keith Yandle #3 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 28, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Bruins defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Early Tuesday morning, Danny Picard of Comcast SportsNet New England wrote that an anonymous source had relayed Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle’s interest in playing for the Boston Bruins.

If that report is accurate, and assuming the NHL’s salary system does not stray too far from the status quo once this NHL labor stalemate is settled, the idea could be quite practical.

Although the Bruins have their top 2011 draft pick, Dougie Hamilton, ascending the ranks, Yandle is already a proven producer on the point. The five-year NHL veteran has broken double digits in the goal column each of the last three seasons and accumulated 80 assists over the last two.

In each of the last four campaigns, Yandle has tallied double-digit assists on the power play, including a whopping 23 in 2010-11.

When Yandle has been at his best in five-on-four action, Marc Savard has been the only Bruin giving a comparable performance in recent years.

The loss of Savard as everyone once knew him after a concussive hit by Matt Cooke in March 2010—and the loss of Savard altogether in January 2011—has played an unmistakable role in making the power play Boston’s most well-known flaw.

As crucial and effective as the five core defensemen from the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team have been, general manager Peter Chiarelli should think about dangling one of those pieces to address his team’s needy departments.

If Chiarelli successfully executed a trade for Yandle, he would still be fielding two full units of certifiable shutdown defenders including Yandle, plus an established and budding two-way blueliner in Hamilton.

Given that Yandle carries a $5.25 million cap hit between now and the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, it would take more than a simple swap of one defenseman to bring the Boston native home. The Bruins would need to crack open extra cap space by casting away at least one other player.

As it happens, however, Boston and Phoenix are presently the two bookends of the NHL’s payroll chart. The Bruins have only $1,332,024 worth of spare space whereas the Coyotes have a small $44,836,583 payroll, which is almost a full $10 million shy of the current cap floor.

Accordingly, a trade involving the self-idled goaltender Tim Thomas and one practical piece in exchange for Yandle would not be an irrational proposition. Thomas, an NHL-seasoned defenseman and maybe one AHL prospect or future draft pick just might convince the Coyotes and also keep Boston within the bounds of the salary cap.

Towering team captain Zdeno Chara is out of the question, seeing as he is one of the few genuinely All-Star caliber players at Boston’s disposal and that other teams might hesitate to assume his lengthy contract.

Next down the cap chart is Johnny Boychuk, who comes with a $3,366,667 cap hit and could be an enticing younger replacement for Adrian Aucoin. Like Aucoin, who has left Phoenix for Columbus via free agency, Boychuk will occasionally unleash a sizzling slapper and does his day job irreproachably.

In contrast to Aucoin, though, Boychuk is more than a decade younger and has just begun to log higher plus/minus, body-check and blocked-shot tallies.

Based on their recent respective performances in the postseason, Boychuk would be a little easier for the Bruins to part with than, say, Dennis Seidenberg or even Adam McQuaid.

Andrew Ference’s leadership qualities and tenure of five-plus years with the team―at this point, he is one of only three Bruins who have been in Boston longer than head coach Claude Julien―are too valuable to relinquish.

But if the system and the state of the two teams in question stays roughly the same and Yandle is, in fact, keen on playing for his hometown, a swap of Thomas and Boychuk for the Coyotes’ alternate captain is at least worth critical consideration.