Truths And Lies Of The Keith Yandle Trade
There are many ways of analyzing the Keith Yandle to the Rangers trade, but only some of the arguments are valid.
The Rangers made a blockbuster trade today, acquiring Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, and a 4th round pick for Anthony Duclair, John Moore, and 1st and 2nd round draft picks. The move came after a report that Dan Girardi was involved in the deal, so the fan base understandingly went from elation to anger about the trade. There have been many opinions tweeted out about the trade today, as one would expect with a deal of this magnitude, but it is important to understand each point and how much validity it has. With that, let's look at some of the main arguments about the trade and why they are wrong or right.
Argument: The Rangers are mortgaging the future to win now.
Rebuttal: First of all, the future is not being mortgaged based off of one prospect and two picks being moved. The Rangers are in fine standing for their future, with prospects such as Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes, Brady Skjei, and even Jesper Fast being either close to or in the NHL. In addition to those, the Rangers have young stalwarts in the lineup like Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and J.T. Miller. The future certainly looks less promising, but the Rangers are not hopeless for the future.
Additionally, the Rangers are not suddenly the Stanley Cup favorites after making this trade. Yes, the Rangers filled a major need by getting a puck moving defenseman in Yandle, but the greater concern is shot suppression. Yandle is an offensive-defenseman and will not be greatly helpful in lessening the number of shots on net the Rangers are allowing. Playoff positioning is key, and while Cam Talbot is in net and allowing 3+ goals a game, the Rangers goal should be to keep the puck away from Talbot until Henrik Lundqvist returns. This move does not take major strides towards accomplishing that goal at all, so the same problem remains as the Rangers fight for the Metropolitan Division crown.
Yes, the Rangers current team is better than it was a few hours ago, and yes the Rangers did give up a vital piece for the future in Anthony Duclair and the draft picks, but the team is neither in terrible position for the future, nor amazing position for now.
Argument: The trade allowed the Rangers to re-sign Mats Zuccarello
Rebuttal: The Coyotes did retain half of Keith Yandle's salary in the deal, but Yandle will still be making more than John Moore this season, and will likely be making close to, if not more than, what Moore will make next season. The financials do not play out in favor of this argument, as the Rangers will not be gaining any major long term flexibility or even short term flexibility that would help them sign Zuccarello. If Dan Girardi was involved in the trade the argument would certainly be viable, but unfortunately the snow-angeling albatross will still wear Rangers white and blue, so the argument is invalid.
Luckily Glen Sather wised up and re-signed Zuccarello to an excellent deal, which does help lessen the blow of losing so much for a year and a half of Keith Yandle at half price. The Zuccarello contract is excellent, but could have been made without the trade.
Argument: James Dolan ordered this trade to happen.
Rebuttal: C'mon, we all know James Dolan wouldn't even know who Keith Yandle is. If he played basketball, however....
As for the valid arguments:
Argument: The Rangers letting Anton Stralman leave in free agency and instead re-signing Dan Girardi and signing Dan Boyle led to the trade.
This is true because the killer Dan's (not meant in a positive way at all) have been disappointing as expected this season, while Anton Stralman has continued to be a shutdown defenseman for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Today's trade is essentially a "I made a huge mistake" admission by Glen Sather about Dan Boyle, as Keith Yandle fills the Boyle role of offensive defenseman and Powerplay Wizard.
As pretty much every fan with knowledge of the two defenseman explained at the time, the Rangers chose an aging, slowing down Dan Boyle over an in-house, entering his prime, shutdown defenseman in Anton Stralman and expected it not to blow up in their faces. Even in a perfect world Boyle would likely regress in the second year of his contract, but this is not a perfect world so instead we are looking at Boyle being paid $4.5M to skate around with a cane and take a slapshot every once in a while next season. With Boyle being overpaid and old, Sather felt the need to strike for an above-average offensive defenseman, thus the overpay for Keith Yandle.
As for Dan Girardi, there is not much to say about him other than that my twitter feed was filled with people crying tears of joy when they thought he was traded, but the joy turned into pure sadness when the defenseman was revealed as John Moore instead. Girardi is under a David Clarksonian contract that will be nearly impossible for the Rangers to move, but also hinders the Rangers ability to keep their top talent. Had the Rangers moved Dan Girardi at the deadline last season, they could have Anton Stralman, Sami Vatanen, and draft picks, rather than Dan Girardi, no Anton Stralman, no Sami Vatanen, and no draft picks. Sather strikes again!
Argument: The Rangers lost the Keith Yandle trade.
There is only one way the Rangers are not clearly losers in the Keith Yandle trade, and that is if they win the Stanley Cup in one of the next two seasons. Giving up Anthony Duclair for one and a half seasons of Yandle alone is a tough price to take, but throwing in a first round pick and a second round pick as well is disastrous. Yandle is a solid defenseman that will be a lot of fun to watch, especially in terms of his offensive game at the blue line. Unfortunately, the Rangers need for an offensive-defenseman was not strong enough to warrant the price they paid. Anthony Duclair has the potential to be a star in this league, and giving up a first round picks means that barring a trade the Rangers will have zero first round picks for four consecutive seasons. I outlined above how the Rangers could possibly afford to part with that, but they should not have to afford to part with it.
As far as I was concerned heading into the deadline, the only way the Rangers should part with another first round pick was if the move made them clear cut Stanley Cup favorites. This trade does not, as the Rangers still have a bit of a forward depth issue and Tanner Glass skating around on the fourth line. Dan Girardi and Dan Boyle taking up two of the defensive spots is no recipe for success either, and while Yandle adds offense, he won't be major help in stopping shots from getting to the net on defense.
If the Rangers win the Stanley Cup one of the next two seasons and Keith Yandle plays a major role in it, I will eat my words and accept the trade with no remorse whatsoever. But in any other situation, where the Rangers even make the Stanley Cup and lose in back to back seasons, or fail to make it, the deal is simply not worth it. Yes, the Rangers will be OK for the future, but Anthony Duclair would have been a major help for years to come, possibly even taking a top two line spot at an incredibly small price. I am not convinced Keith Yandle is the difference maker for the Rangers to win the Cup, but I am sure hoping I am wrong. If not, the Rangers essentially gave up a future star and picks for the idea of hoisting the Cup.
Argument: Tanner Glass is terrible at hockey.
Because we all need to remember that no matter what happens with Yandle and the defense, the Rangers have a joke on skates on the fourth line. That matters when in the playoffs Alain Vigneault throws his fourth line onto the ice at the end with a one goal lead and Tanner Glass is checking the boards or skating in circles thinking about pie or whatever he does. The deadline could be a success of sorts if Glass is out of New York.