Is Keith Yandle the next Kevin Shattenkirk?
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A once top defenseman, who began his career with one team and signed a pretty large contract with another, sees his contract bought out by the team he signed with. Oh, did I mention they had rather short stints with another team in the middle of both of those destinations? Now a newly minted free agent, that defenseman takes a cheap one-year deal with yet another team.
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That’s exactly what happened this week with Keith Yandle, who signed a one-year, $900,000 deal with the Philadelphia Flyers after being bought out by the Florida Panthers. There’s another example that comes from recent memory as well. The same exact scenario played out with Kevin Shattenkirk.
Shattenkirk and Yandle are remarkably similar in their career paths at this point. Shattenkirk came up with the St. Louis Blues, was traded to the Washington Capitals, before signing as a free agent with the New York Rangers. He would get bought out from that contract when the Rangers entered their rebuild, sign a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then sign a multi-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks the season after.
Keith Yandle has an opportunity to become the next Kevin Shattenkirk
That one year in Tampa was good for Shattenkirk. After somewhat lackluster seasons in New York, Shattenkirk put up 34 points (8 G, 26 A) in 70 games, as well as having a positive plus minus ranking for the first time since his short stint in Washington. Shattenkirk was awarded for his efforts with his first Stanley Cup Championship.
More importantly, he re-established his value. He may not be a $6.65 million defenseman like the Rangers were paying him, but he is a $3.9 million defenseman with the Ducks. That was almost double what he made on his prove-it deal in Tampa when he was paid $1.75 million.
Now Yandle is going to look to do the same. It’s worth noting that he’s entering into a different scenario with Philadelphia than Shattenkirk found himself with in Tampa. Tampa was a cup favorite when Shattenkirk signed there. The Flyers, well we don’t really know what’s going on with them. They finished out of the postseason last year and have since made some interesting choices, such as trading Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes, while taking Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres.
We’ll give the Flyers the benefit of the doubt that some of these moves, especially shipping Gostisbehere away, were a necessity because of the NHL’s cap remaining flat for next season. Point is, we wouldn’t expect to see Yandle raise a Stanley Cup next season like Shattenkirk did. Well, unless he’s traded at the Deadline.
That one-year contract would look great if Yandle proves his worth.
Then there’s the concern over Yandle’s age in this comparison. When Shattenkirk signed with the Lightning after his New York buyout, he was 30 years-old. Yandle is 34 years-old as he signs with Philadelphia. Shattenkirk will be as old as Yandle is now by the time his contract in Anaheim is up. If Yandle got the same contract term Shattenkirk got after his one-year deal, then that would take him to his age 38 season.
As for Yandle’s next move, Shattenkirk is an imperfect comparison. Even though the latter wasn’t the reason the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, he did post an impressive 13 points (3 G, 10 A) in his 25 Playoff games. That, along with winning the Cup, likely added to his value a little bit when he signed with Anaheim. Not to mention the cap crunch that seemingly affected the entire league in the 2020-2021 season and this upcoming season as well.
Keith Yandle’s $900,000 cap hit is substantially less than Shattenkirk’s one year deal in Tampa, so it shouldn’t cause any concern to the Philadelphia Flyers. What Yandle makes of this opportunity is entirely up to him. He might not be the top defenseman he once was, but another multiyear contract might not be out of the question if he can carve out an impressive season in the City of Brotherly Love in 2021-22.