|Yandle had 11 goals and 32 assists while playing 22:20 per game last season. (Getty Images)|
The Phoenix Coyotes are one of the fortunate teams in the NHL in that they have a glut of talented prospects on defense. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is already viewed as one of the best defensemen in the league already, seemingly making Keith Yandle expendable.
You might remember earlier this year that Yandle's name was being floated around in some potential trade chatter. But the way general manager Don Maloney -- one of the best in the business -- sees it, that's absolutely not the case.
"Keith's an assistant captain. He's part of our core," Maloney said. "He's been here since I've been here, and in order to have success, you have to have your core players.
"He's no different than any other player we have that, if the deal is right -- but it has to be really, really right for us to think of a guy like Keith, Marty Hanzal, the guys that have been here, our core players. We want to keep our core players."
Now, that makes more sense.
When the rumors started to seep out that Yandle could be on the trading block, it seemed a bit out there. Why would the Coyotes want to give him up? Just like pitching in baseball, you can never have enough good defensemen on your roster. The emergence of Ekman-Larsson doesn't mean that Yandle can go; it means that they now have two excellent defensemen.
While we know the Coyotes don't swim in cash and Yandle does have a relatively high price tag of $5.25 million against the cap, the Coyotes have to spend some money. They're already near the floor as it is.
Further, if offense is what the Coyotes are looking for then trading away Yandle would seem to be a bit counterintuitive. Yes, he plays on the blue line, but he's one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL, and puck-moving defenseman can do wonders for offensive ills.
While Maloney doesn't completely close the door to any deal involving Yandle -- surely he wouldn't turn down a trade that sent him Sidney Crosby, for a hyperbolic example -- it seems like he's trying to quash everybody's dreams of Yandle being available.