The NHL lockout has been absolutely horrific for all hockey fans. We miss the hard-hitting action that leaves a void in many of our lives. What it has given us the time to do is look at options for our home team and how we could potentially improve our roster.
When I look at the Phoenix Coyotes, I see a team that has managed to hold it together during some dire times. The ownership situation is still not settled, the front office has been put on standby during the ownership transition and many Coyotes have left to go overseas to ply their trade.
One name continues to come up during any discussions involving a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes, and that is the name of defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle was mentioned numerous times throughout all of last season as the most marketable asset they possessed when it came to moving their players for the benefit of the team.
Let me go on record saying that I don't feel that moving the two-time All Star is a good idea. The 6'1", 196 lbs. defenseman is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. Over the past four seasons with the Coyotes, the 26 year-old Boston native posted an average of 9.5 goals with 33.75 assists for 43.25 points. He is excellent on the power play and is magnificent in transition. If you add his expanding leadership role with the team, you have someone who is not only extremely marketable, but is very important for the Coyotes to hold onto.
So, what would make the Coyotes think about trading him? In my opinion, there are two reasons: salary and offensive need.
Yandle recently inked a new deal with the franchise that will keep him a Coyote through the 2015-2016 season, paying him an average of $5.25 million a year. With the ownership situation in flux, either way it turns out is probably not going to be very fruitful for the franchise. If the NHL retains ownership, they will look to maintain the roster as it is and would be willing to cut costs to make the team more affordable to a new buyer (say Seattle or Quebec). If former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison completes his acquisition of the team, I feel that he will not inject a massive amount of capital into the team due to his inability to finish the acquisition due to lack of investor capital.
Either way, I feel cost-cutting will ensue and Yandle could be the first major piece out of the door.
The Coyotes need offense. They finished last season ranked in the bottom half of the league in goal scoring (18th), and their power play has been dismal for years. Last season, their power play finished 29th, second-to-last in the NHL.
While Yandle helps move the puck on the blue line during the power play, the Coyotes have very few options for him to move it to. Ray Whitney is gone, and others up front have not shown they can do the job with enough consistency other than Shane Doan and more recently, Radim Vrbata. Those two names don't scare anybody, though.
So, without further ado, here are three guys who I think make sense in a deal for Keith Yandle. The analysis here is based on salary, fit with the Yotes and skill level.