In a vacuum, Keith Yandle on the Boston Bruins makes plenty of sense.
Plenty of things make it challenging to envision that happening, however.
Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Florida Panthers, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, and his streak of playing 866 consecutive games is in jeopardy. He has a full no-movement clause in his contract, meaning he can’t get put on waivers without his approval, so the Panthers can’t just send him to the taxi squad. So, there’s a good chance he’s just going to be healthy scratched indefinitely.
The 34-year-old’s contract isn’t the easiest to move, and not just because of the trade protection. Including the upcoming campaign, Yandle has three years left on his deal and carries a $6.35 million cap hit.
Thus, the question becomes: How desperate are the Panthers to move Yandle? Certainly, him just sitting on the taxi squad, getting healthy scratched and eating up a chunk of cap space isn’t good for Florida. If they’re willing to retain salary to move him, they may be able to offload his deal, but they still probably won’t be able to get a ton in return. Phasing him out of their plans diminishes a lot of their leverage.
That’s where the Bruins enter.
There are some natural fits. Yandle is from Milton, Mass., and is a left-shot defenseman — an area that could be perceived as a need for the Bruins. With the loss of Torey Krug this offseason, the Bruins lost some major point production from the blue line, something that theoretically could change if Yandle — who has posted at least 45 points in six of his last seven seasons — is worked into the fold.
He’s spent plenty of time playing on Florida’s top pairing with Aaron Ekblad, proving he’s capable enough of a defender against opposing teams’ top offensive players.
So then, from the Bruins perspective, you have to ask much of an upgrade is he, really? The Bruins have made clear from all levels of the organization that they want to give their prospects, namely Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen and Jeremy Lauzon, an opportunity to prove they can hack it in the NHL. Don Sweeney said as recently as Tuesday that the team didn’t pluck any blueliners off waivers because they didn’t want to muddy the waters with someone who wasn’t a clear upgrade.
Trading for Yandle would disrupt that plan, as he would presumably just go to the top pairing with Charlie McAvoy, leaving the third pairing spot with Kevan Miller as the only vacancy for the three youngsters.
By the time the Bruins really figure out what they have in their young guns, Yandle will probably be off the market, or it will have been so long since he’s played that he’d be a question mark himself. Adding him might make sense for the Bruins in the short-term, but it could be at the detriment of their long-term plans — especially with the term Yandle has on his contract.
It’s more cost-effective for the Bruins if their young guys pan out instead of taking on Yandle’s money, even if some of it is retained by Florida. They need to give Lauzon and the like a shot, and it’s hard to imagine the Bruins, after being so steadfast in the desire for a youth movement at the blue line, would make that kind of move this early.