On July 15, the Florida Panthers bought out veteran defensemen Keith Yandle, which allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in five years. Yandle now has a new home as he has agreed to a one-year, $900,000 contract to join the Philadelphia Flyers.
By signing with Philadelphia, Yandle reconnects with Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, who coached the veteran blueliner during his time with the New York Rangers in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Yandle to Enter His 16th NHL Season
Yandle was selected 105th in the fourth round of the 2005 Entry Draft by the then-Phoenix Coyotes. After nine seasons with the Coyotes, he was traded to the Rangers in March of 2015 and had two goals and nine assists in 19 playoff games. Following the 2015-16 season, the Rangers traded Yandle to the Panthers before free agency, where he signed a seven-year, $44.450 million contract with an annual cap hit of $6.35 million.
He had two years remaining on the deal when the Panthers bought him out. Florida bought Yandle out because he had a no-movement clause in his deal and it would have required them to protect him for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, while it also saves them nearly $4 million in cap space.
Yandle has played in 922 consecutive regular-season games and is 42 games shy of tying the all-time record, which is held by Doug Jarvis from October of 1975 to October of 1987. Despite playing in all 56 regular-season games for the Panthers this season, he was scratched in three of the six playoff games for Florida against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
What Philadelphia is Getting
The 34-year-old Yandle brings an offensive game to the Flyers, as he is annually one of the top point-producing blueliners. In 1,023 career regular-season games, he has 498 assists with 102 goals. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 41 assists a season, which includes a career-high 53 in 2018-19. Yandle, who is a left-handed shot, has averaged 23 power play points over the last six seasons and should provide depth on the first or second power play units.
Despite his impressive offensive numbers, which saw him collect 231 points in five seasons with Florida, his defensive game struggled and he finished the 2020-21 season with a plus/minus of minus-8. He ended the season on the third defensive pairing for coach Joel Quenneville. With the Flyers, they are hoping that his defensive game improves and they also hope his offensive numbers continue to stay the same.
The signing of Yandle continues what has been a busy time in Philadelphia. General manager Chuck Fletcher traded the Flyers’ first-round pick in last weekend’s draft to the Buffalo Sabres for defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen. Saturday, veteran Jakub Voracek was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Cam Atkinson. On July 22, the Flyers sent Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes for second and seventh-round picks in the 2022 Entry Draft.
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Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.