After recording 45 assists over the course of the 2013-14 season, Keith Yandle not only comfortably led the Arizona Coyotes in that category but also ranked third among NHL defensemen behind Duncan Keith and Erik Karlsson. Additionally, Yandle's eight goals left him with a team-leading 53 points, six points shy of his franchise-record point total for defensemen of 59 in 2010-11. The 45 assists were three short of his career high of 48 from the same season.
With his value solidified, Coyotes management has shown this offseason that they are willing to deal Yandle for more offensive firepower. But given his recent on-ice success as well as the current state of the market, should they be eager to do so?
The Massachusetts native is undoubtedly a fan favorite and many would be forlorn to see him leave. However, the real argument for keeping Keith around is based on production, both his own as well as a lack thereof on the Yotes' current roster.
Thus far in 2014, Yotes fans have witnessed the departure of two of the Coyotes' top five offensive producers from last season: Radim Vrbata (2nd) to free-agency and Mike Ribeiro (5th) a la buyout. To trade Yandle would be to willingly sacrifice yet another top producer, and in the prime of his career.
Yes, the Coyotes still need scoring, especially in a Pacific Division that continues to get more competitive. And yes, there is young depth at D, considering Oliver Ekman-Larsson's consistency and an improving supporting cast of young blueliners, however the only way a trade involving Yandle can be justified is if significant, real offensive production comes from the other end. In theory, it should be enough to not only fill the gap created by the alternate captain's departure but exceed it as well.
The Detroit Red Wings have been consistently rumored as potential trade partners, but seem unwilling to part with a genuine top-tier offensive talent like Gustav Nyquist. So far all offers have been insufficient and general manager Don Maloney has wisely abstained from action.
He may be a frustrating asset at times, but Yandle is an asset, and a valuable one at that. Until an obviously worthwhile deal is presented, he should and will stay in the desert.