There is a lot to look forward to for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. They’re coming off of the best season in the history of their franchise and have a very strong core in place heading into the future. Plus, they seem to be on the cusp of an announcement that would officially lead to the purchase of the franchise by Greg Jamison.
While locally, the focus on the Coyotes is for that reason, folks outside of the desert may be keeping an eye on them for a different one: the availability of Keith Yandle.
Yandle’s name popped up in several trade rumors prior to the beginning of the lockout, with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins looking like the most likely landing spots. Given the thin free agent class last summer and the need for a top tier defenseman for several clubs, it’s not hard to see why he’d be a popular name.
The question for the Coyotes is whether or not they should actually move forward with attempting to trade him. After all, defensemen like Yandle who are already locked up for another four years don’t exactly grow on trees. However, in the case of the Coyotes, it may be for the best.
You can never have enough defensemen. That’s a common saying, but it’s also extremely true. The Coyotes are one of the deeper teams in the league on the blue line, if not the deepest. They are loaded. So from a pure numbers standpoint, they could trade Yandle and still ice a solid defensive corps just fine.
The bigger concern is letting go of Yandle’s skill set. He’s an asset on offense as well as defense and has a big shot from the point. As putrid as the Coyotes’ power play has been of late, he is still a key contributor with the man advantage. But the Yotes already have a player who can step in and play those minutes and play that role: Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Overall, OEL projects as the better defenseman for Phoenix. It’s only a matter of time before he signs a long-term deal. But he is going to be an elite d-man in this league, potentially as soon as this year. They can afford to trade Yandle simply with the presence of Ekman-Larsson.
Of course, you also have to look at the return. If the Coyotes get a David Krejci type of player, as has been speculated, then a trade is absolutely worth it for Phoenix. They need help on the offensive end, particularly in their top six. A guy like that would add 50 or 60 points to the lineup easily, if not more.
It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see the Coyotes deal Yandle before the season begins. If he is cut loose, it will likely be during the summer. However, if the Coyotes end up starved for some offense as the trade deadline nears, don’t be surprised to see them pull the trigger on a deal like that. It would make perfect sense and it’s something the Coyotes could afford to do.