Apparently, the Flyers were not finished shoring up their blueline.
I was convinced following the Rasmus Ristolainen deal with the Sabres that Chuck Fletcher saw this blueline as good to go for next season. The signing of Yandle now throws a new wrinkle into this Flyers defense. Cam York, who saw three games of action at the end of last season now appears to be the odd man out. The first-round pick in 2019 was expected to be on the third pairing with Justin Braun, but with this development, York may be spending the majority of next season in the AHL.
Grabbing Yandle for a season is an interesting move. Yandle is around a month away from his 35th birthday, and age can usually be a red flag. However, father time has left him alone for the most part. He currently holds the longest active streak in the NHL in games played with 922. This streak is also good for second in NHL history behind Doug Jarvis’ 964 games.
Yandle was a productive player during his five years as a Florida Panther. In 371 games, he scored 231 points (.62 PPG), 65 goals and 246 assists. When you break it down, almost half of those points were earned on the powerplay (13 goals and 101 assists). That could be where Yandle adds noticeable value to this Flyers team.
Out of Yandle’s 27 points in 2020-’21, 18 of those points came on the man advantage (1 goal and 17 assists). Assuming his effectiveness on special teams does not suddenly drop off, I visualize him running point on the second powerplay unit. I previously mentioned age, Yandle is now also the oldest member of the Flyers squad. He brings a Stanley Cup Finals appearance (2014-’15 with NYR) and 58 playoff games of experience to the roster.
Other reputable defensemen such as Ryan Suter are on the FA market as well, but I am pretty sure Suter would not sign at the price point Yandle did. In addition to a cheap low-risk contract, you cannot help but sense there is a chemistry element to this signing. Kevin Hayes and Yandle are documented close friends, if you did not know, then check Hayes’ Instagram story. Hayes has seen former college teammate Cam Atkinson arrive and now his good buddy in Yandle in a span of days. Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault also coached Yandle during his time in New York.
Once again, assuming no further action from the front office, here are the Flyers’ projected defensive pairings:
Provorov – Ellis
Sanheim – Ristolainen
Yandle – Braun
The Flyers have been reportedly interested in some solid backup goaltender candidates, and this contract’s small cap hit will help in finding Carter Hart a solid partner. Vancouver’s Brayden Holtby and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper are two of the top names Fletcher has been looking at. It has also been reported Holtby will be bought out today before the first buyout window closes.
With York being sort of a question mark, you know what you are getting at this stage with Yandle. This is not to say York does not have a promising future in Philly. The Flyers seemed poised to make more signings and look at possible trades, so stay tuned.