Florida Panthers: The best landing spots for Keith Yandle with end in sight

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Keith Yandle (3)
Keith Yandle #3 of the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

There are some clear fits for Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle who could be on the trading block.

It appears as though the end is nigh for Keith Yandle and the Florida Panthers with the defenseman seemingly not in favor in Sunrise anymore and an exit looking more and more likely.

Mired in hockey obscurity, the Panthers hired Bill Zito as their new General Manager during the offseason and he immediately went about making this roster a lot tougher for Head Coach Joel Quenneville, who endured a disappointing first year behind the bench of the Panthers in 2019-20 despite making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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And it is clear that a new direction has been taken by Zito with prolific scorers in the ilk of Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov both being allowed to walk and hit Free Agency, and it now appears as though Yandle could be the next Florida Panthers mainstay out of the door.

Skating with the healthy scratches – although he did get some work in with the main group and on the power play today – Yandle’s status to start Florida’s 2020-21 season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday is in doubt, which would snap the defenseman’s NHL Ironman streak of 866 games. That is the longest active streak in the league and, if it is brought to an end because of Yandle being a healthy scratch, then that is likely to cause more friction between player and franchise.

Keith Yandle is heading for an ugly divorce with the Florida Panthers

Therefore, it does seem as though a trade is coming but it has been made complicated by the fact that Yandle does have a No-Move Clause in his contract, which still has three-years remaining with a cap hit of $6,350,000. Now, there are reports out there that the player has been asked to waive his No-Move Clause, reports that have been shot down by both the front office and Yandle himself, but these kind of situations never end well and, if Keith Yandle isn’t in the Opening Night lineup tomorrow for Florida, then I wouldn’t be surprised if a trade soon followed.

And there will be teams interested in Yandle. For starters, he’s an offensive defenseman who can quarterback the top power play unit and move the puck out of the zone quickly and effectively, automatically improving any team’s transition game. He’s also a very productive player despite being 34-years-old, putting up 45 points (5 G, 40 A) in 2019-20 and 62 points (9 G, 53 A) the year before.

Any team interested in acquiring Yandle would be getting a top-four defenseman who can log big-minutes, quarterback the top unit of the power play and record between 40-60 points in a normal season, while he’s also proven that he’s incredibly durable thanks to his lengthy ironman streak. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the three best destinations for Keith Yandle should he get traded…

Keith Yandle (3)
Keith Yandle #3 of the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

3. Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets haven’t been mentioned as a potential destination for Keith Yandle yet, not that I’ve seen anyway, but it could make a lot of sense. For starters, it is hardly a secret that the Jets are light on the backend and they could do with some high-end reinforcements, especially if they want to make the Playoffs in what is a tough North Division.

Now, granted, the Jets already boast a few blueliners who can move the puck, get it out of the zone and chip in with offense in Neal Pionk and Sami Niku, but Yandle would be a significant upgrade and he would add a boatload of experience to what is a fairly young defense corps in Winnipeg.

He would slot straight into their top-four and could quarterback the Jets’ top power play unit which ranked 16th in 2019-20 (20.6), adding another potent weapon to a unit that already features the likes of Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. After all, Yandle has the fourth-most power play points (96) among defensemen since 2016-17, and he would be a perfect fit for how the Jets play the game.

With the Winnipeg Jets in win-now mode given the makeup of their roster, they should be acquiring pieces to help push them over the top and Keith Yandle certainly fits into that category given his ability to still be able to produce at a high-rate. He could be a perfect fit in Winnipeg and, although the weather will be nowhere near as nice as it is in Sunrise, Yandle would probably have a better chance of winning a Stanley Cup with the Jets than he would with the Florida Panthers.