Florida boast quite an impressive prospect pool, and after their successful 2015-16 campaign, it was presumed that they would begin to cash in on some picks and enhance their squad to become true playoff contenders. In their biggest move so far, the Panthers have pulled in negotiation rights to Keith Yandle, from the New York Rangers, for the cost of two lower round picks. Newsday reports that the Rangers will be receiving a 2016 6th round pick and if the Panthers successfully sign Yandle, a 2017 4th round pick – which at this point is still listed as conditional. The Florida Panthers shipped off the 3rd overall pick from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Erik Gudbranson, to Vancouver and in doing so left a space in their defensive lines. The “Gudbransonator” is a giant of a man, plays a very physical game, but doesn’t have a lot of offensive upside. The move here was to bring in a defenseman who can defend very effectively and bring a bit more point scoring from the blue-line.
Keith Yandle scored five goals and 42 assists last season, and the 29-year-old has two seasons where he scored 50 points plus. According to ESPN, only two Florida defenseman have ever achieved this feat in the franchise’s 23-year history. Spotrac shows that Yandle hit $5.25 million on the cap, with Arizona retaining $2.625 million last season. The defenseman will almost certainly be looking for a pay raise, but the Panthers are up for meeting the demands. As reported by ESPN, Panthers general manager Tom Rowe stated: “We wouldn’t have made the trade if we weren’t confident that we could come to a conclusion and get him into our system.” Whilst trading picks for a few days of early negotiation time can seem rash, Florida appear confident that it was a good move.
The New York Rangers are losing their top point scorer of last season and for quite a small amount in return. They also only gain a couple of million in cap space, due to the Yotes maintaining most of Yandle’s for the last season. General Fanager calculates that the Rangers have $15.325 million in cap space remaining, with Eric Staal, Dominic Moore, Viktor Stalberg and Dan Boyle all becoming UFAs, then key players like J.T Miller, Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes all becoming RFAs. If the Florida Panthers can nail down a contract with Keith Yandle then this will be seen as a stellar trade, and even if they don’t, they only lose a 6th round pick – which when you look at their prospect pool is well worth risking to have a chance at Yandle.