The Florida Panthers have made the major decision to move away from one of their veteran leaders. Appearing on TSN’s “Insider Trading”, Frank Seravalli states that the Panthers have told Keith Yandle that he is not in their plans for this season. This appears to be a mere personnel choice for Florida and new GM Bill Zito, as Seravalli reports that he has simply “fallen out of favor”.
However, Yandle’s current contract – a seven-year, $44.5MM pact with three years remaining – contains a full No-Movement Clause. He cannot be placed on waivers without his permission, nor can he be traded without approving the deal. As a result, the only plan for now appears to be making him a healthy scratch. While this will sadly mean the end of Yandle’s NHL-best 866-game “iron man” consecutive games played streak, he will still be a member of the team getting paid in full for his (lack of) services. That clearly cannot last for the Panthers.
Florida has overhauled their blue line this off-season, acquiring Radko Gudas and Markus Nutivaara and more recently claiming Gustav Forsling and Noah Juulsen off of waivers. They appear to content to move forward with this younger, new-look group. That should not however be read as an indictment of Yandle’s ability. The 34-year-old is still a very capable puck-moving defenseman who recorded 45 points in 69 games last season. In terms of per-game scoring, it was right in line with some of Yandle’s best offensive seasons. The veteran is obviously durable, but he is also consistent, good for 40+ points in each of his nine 82-game seasons. Yandle may be just 24 games away from 1,000 for his career, but he has not lost a step.
A skilled and experienced defenseman who is respected across the league and has shown no signs of slowing down, Yandle should draw trade interest. Even in a season where money is tight and trades are expected to be scarce, the chance to bring in a reliable play-maker like Yandle should intrigue a number of teams. Due to his high salary cap hit and extended term, the Panthers may be required to take back a bad contract or eat a significant portion of Yandle’s salary. However, they have put themselves in this position by publicly moving on from a good player who is still under contract with restrictive terms, hurting their bargaining power. How this situation shakes out will be a major story in the early part of this new season.