NHL Trade Rumors: Flyers Should Acquire Keith Yandle to Strengthen Blue Line

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NHL Trade Rumors: Flyers Should Acquire Keith Yandle to Strengthen Blue Line
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The Philadelphia Flyers are in 14th place in the Eastern Conference standings, and a trade for a star defenseman would greatly help the team's struggling offense and power play.

Per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:

The word is the Flyers would like to make "a big move" to shake up their struggling club. That has proved to be difficult in the current environment...The only impact blueliner available is Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes, who wouldn't mind shedding his $5.25 million salary. Because Yandle comes with a big price tag, Holmgren's hands could be tied their [sic] as well.

With Chris Pronger and Andrej Meszaros injured, the Flyers don't have a point-producing, puck-moving defenseman who has the ability to quarterback the power play and make good passes out of the defensive zone.

Philadelphia ranks 25th in goals scored and 16th in power-play percentage, and the only defenseman on the roster with more than three points this season is Kimmo Timonen.

Since P.K. Subban has re-signed with the Montreal Canadiens, Yandle has become the best offensive defenseman for teams to make a deal for by the April 3 trade deadline.

He's in the prime of his career at just 25 years old, and his contract has three years left with a $5.25 million salary cap hit, which is a pretty good deal for a defenseman who can be relied on to score 10-plus goals and 30 or more assists each year.

Through nine games this season, Yandle has scored five points (one goal, four assists), which ranks second on the Coyotes among defensemen.

Yandle also performs at a high level in the playoffs with 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 27 games over the last three years. He would definitely help the Flyers score more goals, but more importantly, Yandle is one of the most durable players in the league.

He hasn't missed a regular-season game since 2008-09, even though he plays a physical style of hockey each night. For a team that has suffered so many injuries to defensemen in recent seasons, Yandle has the perfect combination of durability and offensive skill.

His powerful shot from the point and impressive passing skills would upgrade the Flyers blue line in a major way.

What would the Flyers have to give up to acquire Yandle? Phoenix needs a young center with an solid two-way game, which makes top prospect Scott Laughton someone that Philadelphia could offer Coyotes general manager Don Maloney.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Laughton was sent back to junior this season after playing five games for the Flyers, but he did play well at both ends of the ice and showed that he has the size and toughness needed to excel defensively and on the penalty kill at the NHL level.

The 19-year-old center is back with the OHL's Oshawa Generals, where he has scored 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 34 games this season.

If the Coyotes ask for a player who can contribute in the NHL right now, which Laughton would be unable to do since he's in the CHL, the Flyers would be wise to offer Brayden Schenn.

The 21-year-old center is a good young player, but he hasn't played as well as expected following his arrival to Philadelphia as part of the Mike Richards trade in 2011. Schenn has a bright future, but he shouldn't be an untouchable.

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The Flyers aren't going to acquire Yandle without giving up anything of value, and if Schenn has to be included in a possible deal, then Philadelphia should not hesitate.

Yandle would strengthen the Flyers' blue line with his impressive offensive skill set and consistently strong play in his own end.

The Coyotes star should be the Flyers' top trade target over the next few weeks.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.

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