In an article about how keeping Keith Yandle on Broadway might not be such a certainty Larry Brooks once again took a shot at the defenseman's impact on the Rangers. The first shot was last week when Yandle was lumped into the "problem" section of the defense -- something I dispelled here.
This one hit a little harder, though, because I really don't understand how there could be anyone upset with what Yandle has provided the Rangers. From Brooks' story:
Yandle has not been the offensive force the Rangers anticipated, but he has shown flashes, most recently in Tuesday's 3-0 Garden victory over the Candy Canes that followed a fine performance on Saturday against his former team.
Emphasis on the above quote is my own. Sometimes when I read something like that I feel like this:
I feel like a teacher. If that's the answer you've arrived at please show me your work. How did you get there? It's important.— Joe Fortunato (@BlueshirtBanter) November 11, 2015
Right now Yandle has one goal and eight assists for nine points in 15 games. I've attempted to talk about Yandle's lack of goals before as not being a negative, because that's never been his game. From my article:
The Rangers' power play issues were always not having a big, booming shot from the point to wreak havoc on opposing penalty killing units. Yandle was never -- and should never be asked to be -- that player. Yandle has reached double digits in goals four times in his career but has never been known for his booming shot.
If Shea Weber or P.K. Subban are the heavy artillery on the battlefield, Yandle is akin to a sniper or a scout. He'll take his shot when he has it, but he's much more adapt at opening things up for someone else with his vision and passing. Yandle often anticipates the movement of the defense and unlocks soft areas of the ice to help the Rangers generate more scoring. But with a slew of pass-first mentality players on the ice, sometimes the work Yandle does goes unnoticed. That's not on him, nor is the blanket-blaming when people say "well, Yandle was brought in to help the power play and he hasn't done that so it's all his fault."
That, honestly, is where I think a lot of this venom is spewed from. Yandle isn't scoring 20 goals a year from the point and the power play hasn't been lethal so it all falls on him.
But here's the funny part about this: Yandle is playing less on the power play this year than he ever has before in his career. Think about that for a moment. The Rangers traded their best prospect, a first round pick and John Moore for the best puck moving defenseman they've had since Brian Leetch (while he's in his prime no less) and they're not even using him as much on the power play.
Last year between Arizona and New York Yandle averaged 3:19 on the power play. In 2013-2014 he saw the most man-advantage time per game with Arizona, coming in at 4:23 a game (he also, shocker, notched 53 points that year). The least amount of ice time Yandle has ever seen with the man advantage on a per game basis (not counting this year) is 3:05 in 2009-2010 -- where he still recorded 41 points.
This year with the Rangers? Just 2:25 a night. (It should be noted: 2:25 a night still tops the Rangers in the category. But Yandle is no longer on the top unit and often Derick Brassard is being used at the point. I don't have any issues with mixing it up, but Yandle should be playing every power play minute he possibly can and that's not happening.)
Let's avoid another thousand words on why that isn't the best asset management and jump back on the road to where we were going.
With less power play time than he's EVER SEEN in a full season, Yandle is sporting a 0.6 points per game. Over the course of an 82 game season that would equate to a 50-point season. A 50-point season would be the best season points total for a defenseman since Tom Poti put up 48 points in 2002-2003. Want to know how much Poti played on the power play that year? He played 4:44 a game, nearly double what Yandle is seeing right now.
Yandle has five even strength points so far this year -- a very valuable stat for a puck-mover. Want to know who that ties him with? Brent Burns, Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Marc Staal (I was also surprised). Erik Karlsson leads the way with nine even strength points this year, and is followed by Nick Holden and P.K. Subban with eight. Nine other players have between seven and six points at even strength, but four points between the top and Yandle isn't a lot at all.
Also consider that Yandle has been stuck with a rotating partner on his other side and it's not totally inconceivable that maybe he hasn't hit his peak yet. And even so, he's still on pace to have the best season from the blue line in 13 years.
Yandle's career high is 59 points. That would require roughly a 0.10 jump in points per game from where Yandle is right now (an extra nine points over the course of the year). That's not out of his range at all, and if he hit that number it would tie Reijo Ruotsalainen's mark that he notched in 1985-1986.
This also ignores Yandle's 11 points in 21 regular season games with a totally new team and a totally new system last year and then his 11 points in 19 playoff games (with an injured shoulder). It's not like Yandle happened to score a few goals the past few games and that's skewing the numbers. He's a career 0.56 PPG player -- and those numbers include his first three years where he only notched 54 points in 119 games (still a 0.45 PPG).
So can someone please explain to me how Yandle isn't taking care of his end of the bargain? For the first time since Leetch the Rangers have a true puck moving defenseman -- probably one of the hardest holes to fill on an NHL roster -- who is in his prime. How there could even be a thought not to keep him in the fold is so outrageous to me that I don't know how to react to it.
Then again, that there are some who think he hasn't lived up to expectations so far is crazy to me, too.
I've showed my work, maybe they should start to show theirs.