Phoenix Coyotes Preseason Countdown: The Fallible Yandle Edition

Dale MacMillan

Keith Yandle led the Phoenix Coyotes last season with 30 points, but is his tendency to make mistakes a bigger minus than all his pluses?

With 30 days left on our preseason countdown, most would be writing about an eccentric goalie. But, with the Phoenix Coyotes' last number 30 drowning away his sorrows in some Russian bar, we are going to talk about another topic that is humongous big.

Keith Yandle led all Coyotes in points last season with 30. Despite being a scoring, and team, leader (he's worn the "A" since 2010) the Boston native seems to catch a lot of flak from Yotes fans for his on-ice mistakes. But is Yandle really as error-prone as some claim or is he just the Coyotes' whipping boy?

Chief among complaints about Yandle is his penchant for playing too deep in the offensive zone (at times) and the occasional inopportune pass. One must consider whether these mistakes are egregiously different from ones other players make.

Yandle plays a ton of minutes, his time on ice last season was just over 22 minutes per game (second to only Oliver Ekman-Larsson), and has not missed a game in four years. But, he is best known for his offensive skill set, a scarce trait on the current Coyotes roster.

Pop Zbynek Michalek, Rostislav Klesla or Derek Morris into the YouTube search bar and you'll find a healthy mix of hits, scraps and the occasional goal, but #3 is almost exclusively putting the puck behind a goaltender. This isn't a bad thing, as Carl Putnam pointed out on Day 32 of our countdown, Yandle is an offensive force that the Coyotes need in order to turn the 25th ranked power play in the NHL into the able-bodied force that is necessary to make a run for the Cup.

Without the 26-year-old defenseman, mistakes and all, the Yotes would probably look like a very different team. Yandle's 30 points in 48 games is no small feat, as it puts him on par with the likes of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter whom are top players that any team would be more than happy to have on their roster.

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