31-Year-Old Defenseman – Florida Panthers
Keith Yandle Contract Information:
Signed a seven-year, $44.45 million contract extension with the Panthers in June of 2016.
Yandle, who was skating in his 700th career game, went minus-2 with five shots on goal in Monday's 5-3 home loss to the Senators.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
After a par-for-the-course season in which he managed 47 points for the Rangers, Yandle got the big contract he was looking for from the Panthers, who’ll pay him $44.45 million over seven years. Florida will likely regret the back end of that contract, but that’s the price to pay for a gifted passer who dished out 20 helpers on the power play to go along with 22 more assists at even strength. The American defenseman’s lackluster plus-minus bears out his struggles in his own end and he doesn’t shoot nearly as often as he once did, but Yandle’s vision and puck-possession skills should make his partnership with Aaron Ekblad one of the most dangerous blue-line pairings in the league.
A long-time resident of the desert, Yandle was dealt by the Coyotes to the bright lights of Broadway at the trade deadline last year, and he overcame some early jitters to deliver consistent offensive production from the blue line, as he normally does. Yandle may frustrate Rangers fans by taking infuriating risks in his own zone, but he more than makes up for that by regularly delivering 50-plus points, as he's done in three of the last four non-lockout-shortened campaigns, with much of that coming thanks to his puck-moving skills on the power play. His value should see an additional boost this season thanks to the change of venue, as he's likely to deliver a positive plus/minus after compiling a minus-55 over the last two seasons with Arizona.
Yandle led Arizona in scoring with 53 points in 2013-14, including 31 points on the power play. The fact that those numbers came with a dismal minus-23 rating should not deter fantasy owners, but his shortcomings in that category can’t be ignored entirely. Despite scoring just eight goals, Yandle put a career-high 241 shots on net, which ranked third among defensemen and tied for 25th among all skaters. Don't be surprised if he sees a jump in goals this year once his shooting percentage reverts back to near his career norm.
Yandle is often the subject of trade rumors involving the Coyotes, but the blueliner remains strong offensively for the desert club. He tallied 30 points, including 10 goals, in 2012-13 and remains one of the most recognizable fantasy names in Phoenix. Nothing about that should change going forward. His production was about on par with where he's been throughout his career, so another 40-to-50 point season-- at minimum -- should be on tap for the defenseman.
Though he's been the rumored target of quite a few trades, Yandle will remain (for now) a key piece of the Phoenix blue line that contributed to the resurgence of goaltender Mike Smith. With 43 points to complement 51 PIMs and 77 blocked shots in 82 games, Yandle's offensive prowess is almost impressive as his defense. And with added support on the Coyotes' blue line after offseason improvements, there's little reason to temper expectations for Yandle going forward.
Yandle, who signed a five-year contract extension with the Coyotes heading into the 2011-12 season, finished last season third in scoring among blueliners with 11 goals and 48 assists through 82 games. Phoenix's lone representative in the All-Star Game, Yandle is showing no signs of slowing down and should be treated as one of the top defensemen in the league in fantasy drafts. Of his 59 points last season, a team-high 26 were tallied on the power play. Yandle's lone weakness stems from his tendency to stray into the offensive zone; the Coyotes would like to see him remain anchored on the blue line more consistently while still finding ways to bring his much-needed offense to the ice.
Something clicked in Yandle during 2009-10; he believed that he was an NHL defenseman and that he belonged in the league. That belief turned into a stellar performance for the young blueliner, who placed fourth among the team leaders in points scored with 41 (12G 29A), and a plus-16 rating. For 2010-11, expect much of the same from Yandle because even though he had a career-type year in 2009-10, he can be even better.
Yandle's defensive abilities leave a little bit to be desired, but he's very skilled with the puck for a defenseman, and it showed in Yandle's 26 assists last year. Yandle figures to get plenty of time on the power play again in 2009-2010, which could make him a sleeper in fantasy leagues, especially if Phoenix's overall offense is improved.
The Hockey News ranked Keith Yandle in the top 50 of hockey prospects and he continues to provide the Phoenix Coyotes franchise with plenty of options on the blue line. Last season, Yandle played with the Coyotes AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage. He ended the season with a minus 15 rating but scored 34 points, six goals and 28 assists. The top five defensemen in Jovanovski, Morris, Ballard, Michalek, and Boynton form the core group, but the sixth spot is up for grabs. Yandle participated in Rookie Camp this season and has impressed the coaching staff. If he makes the Coyotes team, he will have to improve his AHL numbers.
Yandle is an excellent skater for a bigger rearguard and has a big shot too. He will see occasional callups throughout the season and should be a regular in the NHL as early as 2007-08.