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Does Ryan McDonagh's Return Green Light A Keith Yandle Trade?

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Ryan McDonagh has been cleared to play against Chicago tonight. What does that mean for the impending Keith Yandle decision?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The running theme last week was the New York Rangers had shelved the idea of making any decisions with Keith Yandle until they knew what the long-term situation was with Ryan McDonagh. That answer came late yesterday afternoon, when it was announced McDonagh would be playing against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.

I've thought about this a lot -- and Mike and I touched on it again in last night's podcast -- but I have to assume if the Rangers were waiting for a green light on McDonagh to make a decision on Yandle they're looking to move him. Which isn't the worst answer the Rangers can have to the question, but it's not the right answer either.

We've been through this a million times, and at the hope of not sounding like a broken record I don't think I need to repeat myself too much. What I will say is the worst thing that can happen is losing Yandle for nothing and not walking away with a Stanley Cup, and from what I've seen with this team it's a hell of a risk to sit pat and hope to come through the other side. Oh, by the way, you can't afford to give up picks and prospects to get there, either.

But this entire situation seems to be spiraling towards an outcome where Yandle isn't on the team next year. Be it him kept for a run and the team being unable to afford him, or the Rangers moving him at the deadline for a return in order to not lose him for nothing.

To Mike's point last night -- again, go listen to the podcast -- there's nothing the Rangers are going to get back for Yandle at the deadline that will fit with the "win now" mold you'd have to assume the Rangers are in. But here's the other point on this: Yandle's stay value is so much higher than anything the Rangers are going to get back for him. Keeping him is the only logical move (especially with what the Rangers gave up to get him) but only if they can extend him.

Here's the evidence as I see it: The Rangers and Yandle have touched base on a contract extension but haven't really dug into the details (note: the Rangers are very tight lipped about these things, so it wouldn't be surprising for this to not be fully accurate). Yandle's usage, for the most part, seems to be that of a player the team is trying to prepare to be without. All the rumors surrounding Yandle was that he's not on the trading block UNTIL the Rangers knew what was going on with McDonagh.

That doesn't sound like a team who is doing everything they can to keep one of their best players.

This might be Jeff Gorton doing his due diligence, too. Maybe he couldn't make the moves he needed to make to guarantee the salary be shifted so he could keep all the players he wants to over the summer. Maybe he's not confident even with moving a Dan Girardi or Marc Staal he'd be able to keep everything after the Dustin Byfuglien contract extension put dollars signs in Yandle's eyes. Or maybe he doesn't perceive this team's big problems on defense as actual problems.

It's all speculation. With the Rangers it usually is. They're a team that routinely breaks their own news without a hint of warning from the beats who cover the team. This is a tight-knit brass who keeps their cards as close to their vest as possible. So no, we don't definitively know anything about Yandle's situation.

But I know McDonagh is back. And I know the Rangers don't have room to keep him and everyone else on the roster right now. I know he has true trade value. And I haven't exactly seen a team who is going out of their way to make it seem like they want to keep him around.

You never do really know until it happens, though.