I have a hard time believing that Phoenix is shopping RFA defenseman Keith Yandle, the Coyotes' second-leading scorer last year on a balanced team. But who knows? That team took on Michal Rozsival's $5 million cap hit. To me if you can afford $5 million for Rozsi, that means you can afford whatever Yandle's asking for. Alternatively, maybe it means you're crazy.
Or perhaps it's simply a case of selling high, right? Yandle handled roughly second-pairing competition (defensively) last season, had a lot of offensive zone starts to help him pile up 11 goals and 59 points -- so he's very good at his role at age 24, but perhaps not likely to repeat that production and quite likely to catapult up to the salary track of elite defensemen which he may or may not become. Of trivial note: he drew more minor penalties than he took last year (14 vs. 10), no shabby feat for a 24-minute defenseman.
Yotes GM Don Maloney intends to "go after" his RFA's this week, so rumors of Yandle's shopability may just be reporters and fans filling empty space. But with Garth Snow talking about trading for a defenseman, you know people are going to run with the speculation anyway. And it's July funny season, so what the heck: Could it make sense?
#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes
Sep 09, 1986
Previous Cap Hit: $1.2 million
NHL Seasons: 4+
Depends on Phoenix's -- and Yandle's -- asking price. When you buy unrestricted free agents, you pay more in cash what you did not have to give up in assets. When you make trades, you give up in assets what you did not have to give up in cash. But when you trade for (restricted) free agents coming off career years, you give up both assets and the cash they'll be looking to grab after their career year.
It's a double-whammy, and worse, with Kevin Lowe having long ago destroyed "the second contract" with his Dustin Penner offer sheet, it sets that RFA up on a higher salary trajectory that will one day make him an even richer UFA. Tough to see anyone pulling this deal off given the anticipated cost; even rumors about Yandle being shopped might just be a way of getting him to think twice about asking for the moon from Maloney's dogs.
Other Rumors in the Vacuum
Other rumors you'll come across -- because they aren't signed yet -- are Islanders interest in Scott Hannan or Bryan McCabe. Such interest would contradict what Garth Snow said just two days ago, when he told MSG, the official site and Newsday that he wasn't much impressed by what's left on the UFA blueline market.
If he contradicts that, you have to figure he was playing the card game. But I'm betting there's nothing there. Nonetheless, do Hannan or McCabe make sense?
#23 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Jan 23, 1979
Previous Cap hit: $4.5 million(!) for 4 years, NMC
NHL Seasons: 11+
Hannan's a strange case because he's hopped from team to team. Each of those teams -- the Sharks, Avalanche and Capitals -- have found some value in some things he does, yet each has let him go. (Granted, San Jose let him go when Colorado decided to give him crazy money and a no-move clause.) Last season with Washington, he was passed by two quasi-rookies in terms of assignments taken and performance delivered.
The year before that, however, for playoff-bound (barely) Colorado he took the toughest assignments on the team by far. You could say he was an important defensemen on a barely playoff team, and marginalized on a decent playoff team. That decent playoff team is letting him walk now, by the way.
At best, he probably gives you veteran depth and some physicality. Figuring out how much he improves your overall defense involves hope and alchemy.
#28 / Florida Panthers
Jun 08, 1975
Previous Cap Hit: $5.75 million for 5 years, NTC
NHL Seasons: 15
McCabe (don't you love that they updated that profile shot with the jaw guard?) is the complete opposite of Hannan: You wouldn't add him for his defensive game, you'd add him for his historical help on the powerplay, with that heavy shot.
But is that even worth it anymore? His roles at even strength the past two seasons with Florida and the Rangers have been middle to low-end. Meanwhile, his powerplay production (which is subject to fluctuation depending on your PP unit and luck) has been just okay at best: 6 PP points in 19 games with the NYR, 7 PP points in 48 games with the Panthers this past season; 19 PP points in 82 games with the Panthers in 2009-10.
The Panthers had the worst powerplay this past season (an abysmal 13%), and it wasn't much better the year before (28th, and 14.2%). Can't pin that on McCabe, but you can't say he was "keying" anyone's powerplay lately. For reference, James Wisniewski collected 13 PP points in 30 games with the Isles, and Andrew MacDonald collected 12 in 60 games, largely adding those PP duties and points in the period after Wiz was dealt.
For the Islanders, I'm not sure McCabe gives you PP help that MacDonald cannot. And considering the weaknesses and/or decline in the rest of McCabe's game, at the very best he would provide veteran depth with -- for nostalgia's sake -- the hope of some powerplay punch. He doesn't fit the much-discussed "top four" criteria, and would be more of a specialist who might add some things we can't capture on a stat sheet. Can't say I'd go there.