Keith Yandle is going to need to find someone else to carpool with this season.
"I'm going to miss the rides to the rink, to be sure". Yandle said of the departure of blueline partner Derek Morris, adding afterwards that he thought Morris was a good teammate and will miss him.
But a brief moment of recalling the changes to the offseason was all the 28 year old Milton, Massachusetts native would allow himself before turning his attention to the upcoming season.
"Now the focus is just on us, and what we can do to improve and get better", Yandle said.
Yandle is set to begin his 9th season patrolling the defensive zone for the Arizona Coyotes, and even though he's been in the league for almost a decade he is quick to note things he still needs to improve on.
"I think every area for us has to be better. Obviously you have to look at yourself in the mirror. I know for me I have to be better in my own zone and get the pucks up to the forwards quicker".
While Yandle's defensive game has long been a sore spot among many Coyotes fans, one thing he excels at on this squad is driving possession: Yandle has recorded a positive Fenwick For % at even-strength in every season except 2008-09.
But one area in which Yandle could definitely stand to improve is in his even-strength point totals: despite averaging over 14 minutes a game more in 5 on 5 play than in power play time, only 50% of his goals last season and 33% of his assists came at 5v5 play.
Improving his even-strength totals would go a long way to exceeding his career best 59 point season back in 2010-11, during which more than half of his goals and half of his assists came during 5 on 5 play.
But will he continue to improve those numbers while wearing Sedona Red?
Yandle's offensive versatility and power play skillset, coupled with a $5.25M cap hit through the 2015-16 season has made Yandle an often-targeted player for trade speculation among the fanbase. A player like Yandle could command a sizable return on the wings or down the middle if General Manager Don Maloney were to pull the trigger.
Yet trading Yandle for a forward is not a one for one option, in the typical sense. Yandle finished sixth in the league last season in points by defensemen, putting him among players like P.K. Subban, Alex Pietrangelo, and Shea Weber.
By contrast, among those forwards most commonly named as potential targets for a Yandle trade, the most productive forward, Kyle Okposo, was only 21st, surrounded by players like Blake Wheeler and Chris Kunitz. Evander Kane was 123rd on the list (with players like Brendan Gallagher and Alex Killorn), and Sean Couturier was 142nd (with Milan Michalek and Matt Cullen).
What this shows is that even the difference in point totals between someone like Okposo and Yandle is not tremendously distinct, Yandle's capabilities compared to other defensemen are elite. It is not a one-for-one option. It's trading a legitimately exceptional asset for a far more commonplace one.
So unless a team like Philadelphia dumps a treasure chest on Don Maloney's desk, it appears that Keith Yandle will remain a Coyote for the next two seasons, at least. And that will suit the defenseman just fine.
So long as he can find another ride to the rink.