By: Matthew Cahill | Follow Me On Twitter @MWCahill5
After five seasons with Keith Yandle on their blueline, the Florida Panthers announced Thursday morning that they would be buying out the defenseman. During his time in Florida, Yandle played in 371 games while totaling 231 points. Yandle was nothing short of productive, as he put up at least 40 points in three of out his five seasons as a Panther while averaging just under 22 minutes of ice time each night. In addition to this, 114 of his points in Florida came while helping run their power play, scoring 13 goals and dishing 101 assists while on the man advantage. With Florida deciding to part ways with him, Yandle will be on the move for the fourth time in his 15-year career. This brings up the question: could the Massachusetts native find a spot with his hometown team?
Keith Yandle has been a great player his entire career. Scoring 600 points in the National Hockey League is no easy feat, and to accomplish this while also having an Iron Man Streak of 922 consecutive games, good for second all-time, is truly impressive. With that said, the Bruins are in need of a left-handed shot on defense, and Yandle fits that description.
If you add this together with Bruins’ management loving their hometown guys, many may look at the Milton native as an option, and he very well could be. However, I don’t think he should be the team’s first option. Yandle’s average time on ice has continuously dipped now for the past two seasons, as he averaged just 17:15 this past season. If the Bruins are truly looking for a left-handed shot to play alongside Charlie McAvoy, as some have said, Keith Yandle’s average time on ice numbers are not the answer that they are looking for on that top defensive pairing.
However, if the pair of the “BU Line” of Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk stays together, Yandle could potentially be a nice fit on the second or third pairing. If it’s the second pair with Carlo, Yandle would have to show that he could play increased minutes again, and if he could, pairing his offensive style with someone like Carlo’s stay-at-home style of defense could make for a great combo.
Of course, if the Bruins were to sign Keith Yandle, it would have to be a cheap, short-term deal. Yandle will be turning 35 in September, so obviously, either side in a negotiation should not expect anything long-term, but I think the safest bet with him would be a one-year deal. And this is not just the case for Yandle, but Ryan Suter as well, another potential fit who was bought out by the Wild earlier this week.
In terms of when you can expect teams to reach out to Yandle, it will more than likely be after the Seattle Expansion Draft has taken place on July 21. With the team’s general managers busy still compiling their lists of which players to protect and expose to the Kraken, focusing on any players other than their own is something you can imagine none of them want to do.