Despite a disappointing season for the Philadelphia Flyers, there were several highlights, including veteran defenseman Keith Yandle, who broke Doug Jarvis’ ironman consecutive games played streak, setting his own mark with 989. At the Flyers season-ending media availability, Yandle notably chose not to speak to the media, reports Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic (link). O’Connor points out rumors that Yandle could in fact choose to retire this offseason, citing circumstantial evidence and comments from his Flyers teammates.
There’s reason to think Yandle could continue to play, but also reason to see why he may not. For one, Yandle is no longer the player he used to be. Once a defenseman that regularly topped 50 points per season, most recently hitting a career-high 62 points in 2018-19, he has seen that number consistently drop since, with just 19 points in 77 games this season. The veteran also saw his playing time limited this season, culminating in the ending of his ironman streak, even on a struggling Flyers team. On the other hand, Yandle is just 35-years-old, and while far from a rookie, there could certainly be something left in the tank, especially as a defenseman. To that end, Yandle continued his ironman streak into this year and was poised to continue it, but for the Flyers choice to sit him in lieu of younger talent.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they have recalled forward Drew O’Connor from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins of the AHL (link). The 23-year-old O’Connor has split time between Pittsburgh and Scranton this season, playing in 33 AHL games and 22 NHL games. Nearly a point-per-game player in the AHL, O’Connor has just five NHL points this season. Per Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, bringing up O’Connor could be an answer for Pittsburgh in the wake of Jason Zucker’s uncertainty due to injury (link). Pittsburgh is set to begin its first round playoff series against the Rangers in New York this Tuesday.
- Moving out west, according to Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports, Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller could resume skating in three weeks (link). This might not seem like big news, with Arizona’s season ending and approximately five-and-a-half months until opening night, but consider that Keller fractured his leg on March 31st, forcing him to be stretchered off the ice and taken to the hospital, where he would have surgery on his leg. At that point, Keller’s status for not only next season, but perhaps his career, seemed to be in question. While an opening night return for Keller was later confirmed, seeing Keller back on the ice in three weeks, roughly seven weeks after the injury and surgery, is a huge step forward and reason for optimism for the Coyotes.
- From Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is expected to play at the upcoming World Championships in Finland (link). Not a favorite to win the championship, Merzlikins’ home country of Latvia carries with it a passionate group of players and supporters, including Merzlikins. The goaltender recently opened up more about the loss of his close friend and fellow Latvian and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender, Matiss Kivlenieks, who passed away this summer. Playing for their home country could surely be a way for Merzlikinis to honor his late friend.