Could Milton, Mass., native and veteran Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle finally come home to play for the Boston Bruins?
Based on conversations with numerous sources close to the situation, should Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito finally and officially ask the 34-year-old — who is still one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL — to waive his full no-movement and no-trade clauses, he will do so for a trade to the Boston Bruins.
According to one source close to the situation, not surprisingly, Boston may be one of just a few places that Yandle will agree to be dealt to.
So, as they have basically since Yandle emerged as one of the top puck-moving d-men in the NHL and had his first of ten 40-point seasons and counting in 2010-11 with the then Phoenix Coyotes, let the ‘Yandle to the Bruins’ NHL Trade Rumors kick into high gear!
In the latest ‘Off The Record’, I reported that Zito had let it be known that Yandle and the three years with an annual $6.3 million cap hit left on his contract, were available on the NHL Trade market.
Zito was putting pressure on Yandle to waive his no-movement and no-trade clauses by informing the veteran rearguard he’d be a healthy scratch to start the season.
This wouldn’t be just any normal healthy scratch though: This would mean sitting the NHL’s current ‘Iron Man’ because Yandle laced them up for 866 straight games in the NHL, currently the longest consecutive games played streak in the league.
Prior to our OTR Report, Yandle told George Richards of Florida Hockey Now that he loves it in Florida and was caught off guard by the fact he’s very likely going to be a health scratch when the Panthers finally open their season on Sunday.
“When it comes to the no-move (clause), I don’t know where their approach is, what (GM) Bill Zito’s end goal is. Whatever it is, I haven’t been told,” Yandle told Richards.
Instead of coming to Yandle and/or his agent Jerry Buckley to simply ask Yandle to waive for a trade, Zito is putting on the pressure there and in the media.
On Thursday, Zito told TSN and Athletic columnist Pierre LeBrun that he had given Yandle a heads up this was coming but he did acknowledge that Yandle had not been asked to waive anything yet.
Buckley was not happy with Zito’s approach nor that his client is once again the subject of NHL trade rumors thanks to that approach.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with performance,” Buckley, told LeBrun on Thursday.
“Keith is one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL. He was last year, he has been over the last three years. And this decision was made a week before training camp. So it doesn’t have to do with performance.
“This is the general manager’s attempt to pressure Keith and make him uncomfortable and to waive this no-trade clause.’’
Per Richards, Yandle is not even practicing with the game group but with the healthy scratches — and has been all week.
Friday morning, Yandle was part of a small group not going through game prep but conditioning skating led by former team captain and current assistant coach Derek MacKenzie.
#FlaPanthers practice has started. Looks like there is a game group, scratch/taxi group later. Keith Yandle NOT with the game group. Again. Markus Nutivaara with game group in first practice of 2021.
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) January 15, 2021
Apparently, if the Boston Bruins want the left-shot Yandle to come in, quarterback their power play and mentor the youth on the left side this season, he will be willing to do so.
The main issue though is if the Bruins do want Yandle, whom Bruins GM Don Sweeney has inquired about in the past, how do they afford him against the salary cap?
The #NHLBruins opening roster believed to include 22 Active Players (12F/8D/2G) + Pastrnak on IR.
$3.65M Projected Cap Space. At trade deadline, if this space was maintained, could be used to add $15.7M in Annual Cap Hit.https://t.co/2o0hsHzUIy
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) January 14, 2021
The Florida Panthers would clearly have to take on cap space and more than likely eat some of the remaining cap hit on Yandle’s contract.
Currently, they have $2.7 million in cap space.
Yandle had five goals and 40 assists in 69 games last season and is two seasons removed from a career-best 62-points season when he racked up 53 helpers to go with nine lamplighters.