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The importance of Keith Yandle

October 12, 2015, by

Get a clue #1

Get a clue#2

You can only ignore text messages and tweets from Dave Shapiro for so long. I knew if I didn’t get off my rear, dust off my laptop, and start typing again, next thing I’d know Dave would be lurking outside my window Quagmire style.



Anyhow, the Blueshirts season is three games old and already narratives are being expounded about the Rangers defense, mostly in the form of demeaning Dan Girardi and pleading for Dylan McIlrath. And while the defense is certainly the area of the roster to keep tabs on while the season unfolds, the player I’ll be zoning in on is Keith Yandle.

The Rangers haven’t had an elite offensive defensemen since Brian Leetch. Many have tried to fill his skates over the last 15 years (e.g., Tom Poti, Wade Redden, Michael Del Zotto, etc.), but none have succeeded. While Yandle isn’t Leetch, having a d-man with his pedigree shouldn’t be overlooked for several reasons.

1) He’s A Potential Long-term Solution For The Power Play

Dan Boyle was brought in to help the power play, but in reality, he hasn’t been a special teams force in years. Even if he was still capable QB’ing, he’s 39 and likely won’t be on the roster come July. Yandle can be that guy for years to come — assuming he is resigned.

The Rangers haven’t had an elite power play in about as long as I can remember. Meanwhile, Yandle put up over 25 power play points in each of the last two years, which is impressive considering he was dishing to a Coyote team that couldn’t score in a brothel.

2) He Brings Dynamism To The Blueline

The Rangers were a mediocre puck possession team last year (ranked 20th in the NHL in shot attempts % close). This was despite having a coach who preaches puck possession as a philosophy and designs tactics to achieve it (more on this in my next post). Part of this issue was the lack of dynamic defensemen.

Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a team in this league that wouldn’t love to have Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, or even Dylan McIlrath (if he fulfills his potential). The problem is, all of these defensemen more or less have the same skill set. They are good in their own end, but making plays just inside the offensive zone blueline or pushing the play north is not their forte.

Yandle is that guy. Check out these gifs below.




That’s elite skating and stick handling.

In six years with the Yotes, he had a sub 50 shot attempt % once. He cracked 50 points three times. Not bad considering the Yotes strategy for survival for his entire career there was to get an early goal and turtle for 60 mins.

3) He Fits The System

Over the past two years, the Rangers have really remade their forward lines to suit AV’s counter attack style. However, the defense still lacks the think speed and the wheels to really perfect AV’s man-on-man defensive zone system.

Ryan McDonagh was able to make the switch from playing a zone defense to man-on-man pretty easily. Staal took a while to come around, but has more or less gotten it. Klein is a coin flip and struggles for consistency. Boyle is too small and his skating too suspect to really be able to stick to his marker. Girardi is a tire fire. McIlrath would probably be better off in a zone system, but we’ll see how that goes.

While Yandle grew up in a zone defense system in Arizona and struggled when he first arrived in Manhattan, he started to come around in the playoffs. His instincts and his mobility are just too good for him to not be able to make the switch. Here’s a good example of him being able to stick with his check (Panirin) in the corner.



In the end, the Rangers will likely have to get creative with the amount of resources they dedicate to their defense this offseason. However, if Yandle keeps up his form and hits on these three areas of play I’ve outlined, then re-upping him should be a priority, even if that comes at the expense of other players.

"The importance of Keith Yandle", 5 out of 5 based on 31 ratings.
Categories : Players


  1. Chris72 says:

    Good Article. With Girardi and Staal’s contracts on the books for the foreseeable future, I can’t see the Rangers meeting Yandle’s potential asking price. I’m sure the Rangers aren’t gonna have to remind him of the advantages of playing here as opposed to Phoenix as they are certainly burned into his brain from the short time he’s been already, but I don’t believe that’s gonna play a deciding factor in what will probably be his final major pay day. His asking price (which some team will definitely fork over) is gonna be too much for the Rangers to even consider.

    It’s wrong time, wrong time. Yandle’s gonna want it, and the Rangers won’t have it.

    With free agents Kreider, Hayes, Miller and Stalberg looming, I just don;t see it happening.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Hard to argue. They’d have to find a way to move Girardi or Staal’s contract. Obviously with the player’s NMC, they would have to ask both to waive it as well as find a trade partner. Not easy. Not sure I can see a scenario either.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Just going off memory here… but isn’t G’s NMC only for 3 of his 6 contract years? Is it set to expire after this season or next?

        I was under the impression it expired after this yr.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:


          You are correct, his full NMC expires after next season, but then he has a modified no-trade clause for the rest of the deal. So presumably, in that scenario, he would submit a list of teams he’d be willing to go to I’m guessing.

          But he won’t be moveable in time to be a factor in keeping Yandle I wouldn’t think.

    • SalMerc says:

      I also am not sure we can afford Yandle, but with two youngsters ready to take a spot on the blue line by next year, we need some space (both Cap and players). As Boyle will go, that leaves a spot open. Say McIlrath gets that one. What about Brady Sjell? With McD, Stall & Girardi signed, that only leaves Klein or Yandle. On of the two will probably have to go, or Brady gets moved (which I can’t see). As for money, I would think we pay Kreider, Hayes and Miller. Stalberg may have to go. So too would D.Moore or Stoll go. We may have the cash to sign Yandle, but still need to move a defenseman.

      • WilliamW says:

        It’s possible to afford Yandle and keep Staal and Girardi (irregardless of whether keeping them is the right move, it’s probably what management would like)

        1) Give Yandle a contract similar to Staal / Girardi
        2) Move Klein and Glass
        3) Kreider for $5mm AAV
        4) Hayes for a modest bridge at ~$3 mm
        5) Buchnevich for Stalberg
        6) Skjei and DM on the blue line

        • The Suit says:

          My solution to everything is trade Girardi. His skill set is redundant at this point.

          • Dave says:

            Welcome to the dark side, my friend.

            • SalMerc says:

              There are ways to get Yandle signed without moving Girardi. Whether we want 40% of the CAP for blueliners and goalies is quite another story.

              • Dave says:

                There are certainly ways, but Girardi is having issues with keeping up with man coverage.

            • Jon says:

              Easier said than done. There’s still teams that would want him but the Rangers would need to do a lot to make him waive his NMC by maybe sitting him in favor of their younger players. Maybe if he sat in the press box for some time he’d see his time was up in NY.

          • Section 121 says:

            If its Girardi and Staal being redundant, I would prefer to move Staal and keep Girardi

          • Chris72 says:

            I have no problem with the solution, but who would take a 31 yr. old tire fire at 5.5M for the next four seasons?

        • Dave says:

          Doable, but I’d prefer to get Hayes under a longer deal, which probably messes things up.

    • paulronty says:

      I think the Rangers will get it done with 4.8 coming off the books for Boyle & maybe they move Klein 2.9 million. Also with Buch coming in next year(hope) they might let Stoll go and maybe even have to consider letting Stalberg or Etem go. Who knows but I see Yandle getting a 5 year deal at close to 6 mil

  2. Dave says:

    Way to call me out, bro,

  3. Dave says:

    Who gave this a thumbs down? Seriously?

  4. supermaz says:

    Yandle is way overrated, I will not be happy if they resign him at the expense of a young player, e.g. Hayes, Miller, Skjei.

  5. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Suit baby! Nice to have ya back.

    Awesome post and agree in full. It would be a real shame if he performs this year and we’re unable to keep him due to cap constraints / painting ourselves into a corner. Am I wrong in remembering that Girardi’s NMC expires after this season? I had thought it was for the first 3 of his 6 yr deal….

    • InvalidBeard says:

      Hockey’sCap just says “Modified NTC”. Staal has a 3 year NMC and 3 year modified NTC.

      • The Suit says:

        Thanks Swayze. I think Invalid Beard is correct. Girardi’s contract is a modified NTC…after 2016. But perhaps he wouldn’t rule out a move if the right situation came along.

  6. InvalidBeard says:

    Awesome breakdown. Drove me insane how they continued to push Boyle on the top PP and limit Yandle. The flubbed back pass for the breakaway and goal between St. Louis and Boyle was my breaking point. The staff’s stubbornness easily could have cost them the ECF.

    Somewhat related note, while Klein is still here, would love to see him crank out a few more one-timers from Yandle.

  7. Greg B says:

    So, too early to talk about McIlrath v. Byfuglien tomorrow, for those cheap shots from last year?

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I hope that doesn’t happen. McIlrath needs to focus on playing sound fundamental hockey and show he can keep up with NHL caliber speed. If he becomes a circus side show, AV will likely have him return to the press box next game.

      That being said, a few well placed blistering (but legal) checks would certainly be welcomed! 🙂

      • Greg B says:

        Yes, very true. Ok, I will settle down.. I tuned into Summer Ice (lol) and caught that part of the Jets game and it got me riled up again..

      • BOBBY B says:

        Good points , but I do remember years back when Dave Brown tried to decapitate Tomas Sandstrom at the time one of our better all around players and not 1 NYR came to his aid. A few months later we traded for Chris Nilan, 1st game against Philly, he fought Brown, it sent a MESSAGE. So if we are up by a few goals, its the 3rd period and Byfuglien is looking to start something, let Mcllrath dance with him!!

      • Chris72 says:

        Well said Eddie! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Byfuglien-McIlrath match penalties all night as the exchange severely benefits the Rangers, but to go into the game looking for redemption doesn’t help McIlrath in his season debut. If the gloves were to be dropped within the flow of the game, GREAT……….. but let it happen, don’t look for it to happen

  8. Jon says:

    I hope there’s a way the Rangers can get Staal to at least submit a list of teams he’d consider going to. He could play top pair mins on most teams in the NHL. Contenders and non.
    Paying him was a better idea than keeping Girardi but if Staal were a righty maybe things go differently with Strahlman and Girardi.
    Yandle, with his skating ability is perfect for the way the Rangers want to play. As a top four defenseman he may not be as good defensively as Staal but he would most likely give more for the money.

  9. Jon says:


  10. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    I’ve noticed on occasion that many folks out here will suggest that the Rangers should find a way to convince a Boyle, Staal, Girardi or even Hank, to give up their NMCs. While certainly anything is possible, it is highly improbable that the player would ever agree to something they specifically bargained for. For one thing, there is tremendous pressure from the union to never give in on these things. It just doesn’t happen.

    On top of that, you’d have to find a trade partner. If the Rangers felt these were bad deals and wanted to get out from under, and somehow the player did agree, who would be willing to pick up those deals? Wouldn’t the Rangers have to eat substantial portions of such a deal to move them? If they did that, how do they adequately replace them with quality talent that helps you win a Cup?

    That’s the kind of thing an Arizona (such as they did in the Yandle deal) would do to acquire future pieces. It’s not the kind of deal a SC contender makes, because it’s almost impossible to make your team better that way in the short term.

    The chances of a player with an NMC being dealt is just not good, and its just not what a contending team does.

    • Chris72 says:

      Once again Eddie, you took the words right out of my mouth. The rest of the NHL doesn’t get together and say, “well, the Rangers are really in a bind with their cap situation, maybe we can take some contracts off their hands they feel will hinder their chance of resigning Yandle.” If they are “bad deals” for us, why would anyone else want them? Sure, it’s fun to talk about possible trade scenarios and lop-sided deals that heavily favor the Rangers, but in reality, these deals never take place.

      You can’t refer to Girardi as a “tire fire” and then expect someone to take the tire fire off of your hands just to help a brother out.

  11. roadrider says:

    Sorry but “Girardi is a tire fire” is way over the top.

    I just don’t get the Girardi hate that some on this site espouse. I understand that his contract is a problem, I get that he’s not the ideal fit for the AV system (but I haven’t noticed AV cutting his ice time much or moving him down to the bottom pairings), I realize he’s on the down slope of his career, I haven’t forgotten about Game 1 of the 2014 SC finals and as for the snow angels …. Yeeesh!

    But given the big time minutes Girardi plays against opponents top lines if he were a tire fire the Rangers’ results for the past few years would not be as impressive as they have been.

    As for Yandle, I’m still not sold. When and if he shows that he is the key to fixing the PP, and by that I don’t mean that he could be in theory a few flashy GIFs but actual measurable production then I’ll be ready to buy in. I get that he’s a good passer but the Rangers already have too many pass-first guys. Their biggest problem is a lack of guys who know how to find the back of the net and on the PP its a guy who sets up on the blue line and blasts the puck on goal. That’s not Yandle’s game and while I’m willing to reserve judgement I can’t escape the feeling that they will soon rue the day that they traded in Duclair on this guy.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      RR, I totally agree with you on Girardi. How do the Rangers beat the likes of the Caps and Pens in the playoffs these last few years if he was a tire fire? He’s not a fancy stat guy….just a warrior and a winner. The only concern is the cap hit and length of his contract, which I understand. But Girardi helps the Rangers win…..they don’t win in spite of him.

      As for Yandle, I understand your concern. But remember, Yandle’s been among the best offensive defensemen in the league for a decade now, playing on mostly pretty poor Coyote teams. He’s a two time all star. He, like many others, struggled acclimating to a new system. Then, in the first round, he suffered a grade 1 shoulder separation that AV later said it was questionable if he should have played at all. Under those circumstances, he played pretty well in the post season.

      He goes into this year 100%, acclimated to the system, with his UFA summer approaching, in his NHL prime. I’m expecting him to have a monster year.

  12. Bloomer says:

    Yandle is a number one defenceman on the majority of NHL teams. Dan Boyle will retire at the end of the season (hopefully with his name engraved on Lord Stanley). Klein will have to be traded in the offseason to make cap space, his reasonable salary makes him a very sought after commodity. If the young Rangers forwards continue to play like they are, Rick Nash could moved after the playoffs.

    • Chris72 says:

      If Rick Nash were to be moved (which I have no problem with), either Kreider or Hayes or Zucc or Miller (pick one) better show they are capable of scoring 30 plus goals.

      I’m also not convinced Nash’ 7.8 million annual cap hit can be easily moved. His mediocre post season production doesn’t help his value either.

      I always like to present the trade scenario to the person looking to rid themselves of a specific player……………….. Would you add Rick Nash to your roster at 7.8M per?

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        I’m with you Chris. Nash, for all he is criticized for, is still among the elite goal scorers in the game. His conditioning is off the charts, which suggests he may remain that way for several more years yet. Unless the Rangers are in rebuild mode, and/or you truly believe that his production can be easily replaced, I dont see him going anywhere.