By all accounts, Milton, MA native and unrestricted free agent defenseman Keith Yandle is closing in on a decision and that decision still could be to sign with the Boston Bruins.
Early Saturday afternoon, Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest tweeted that a Yandle decision could come as early as Saturday and most likely by the start of free agency on Wednesday. Strickland later corrected his first report saying it won’t be Saturday.
Should clarify, Yandle won’t sign today and very unlikely tomorrow. Likely before start of UFA, as early as Monday https://t.co/UbBrdsSGk8
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 24, 2021
At 1:30 PM ET, an NHL source confirmed Strickland’s corrected report and also confirmed that the Boston Bruins remain in the running for Keith Yandle. According to this source, there has and still is an ongoing dialogue between Yandle’s camp and multiple teams in addition to the Bruins. On Thursday it was reported here that the Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carolina Hurricanes were also believed to have an interest in Keith Yandle. The chatter on Saturday pointed towards a trimmed list of the Bruins and two other teams. One NHL scout speculated to BHN that the Toronto Maple Leafs may have entered the fray and could be one of the two to three teams still in the hunt for Yandle.
On Thursday, another NHL source stressed that while Keith Yandle to the Boston Bruins may seem like a slam dunk: ‘Not so fast.’
Keith Yandle was bought out of the two years remaining on the seven-year, $44.1 million contract he signed with the Florida Panthers back in 2016. Just prior to last season, Yandle’s relationship with Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville and new GM Bill Zito began to deteriorate as they seriously contemplated making Yandle a healthy scratch for the season opener. After some clamoring and outrage from the media, fans, and the hockey world, the Panthers changed course, and Yandle’s iron man streak continued. Keith Yandle would go on to play in all 56 regular season games, finishing with three goals and 24 assists in 56 games.
The Panthers made Yandle, 34, a healthy scratch for half of their first-round playoff series, but that does not affect his streak which now stands as the longest active ironman streak in the NHL at 922 consecutive regular-season games played — 42 short of Doug Jarvis’ record.
It is no secret that the Boston Bruins have had an interest in Yandle. There literally may be no bigger Boston sports rumor than ‘Yandle to the Bruins’. Every Boston hockey fan and connected source in the Boston hockey scene has tried to wish this rumor to become a reality since Yandle broke into the NHL. That was when the always beleaguered Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes franchise selected Yandle in the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. While the Bruins were close to acquiring Yandle last October, there are now more teams that are looking into him.
Just prior to the NHL Expansion Draft, another NHL source confirmed to BHN that a trade was in place last October to send Yandle to the Boston Bruins. The same source also confirmed that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin fancied Yandle to play a major role in the Canadiens’ powerplay for the 2021 season. That interest is still there.
While the salary cap has turned NHL GMs away from signing specialty players, there is no arguing that Yandle is one of the best powerplay quarterbacks of the last five NHL seasons, and could help a contender. Since the Panthers signed Yandle to a seven-year, $44.1 million contract, he has been the anchor of the Cats’ power play attack. Yandle had 39 power play points in 2018-19 and finished Top 5 on the man advantage prior to this past season. Per our Florida Hockey Now colleague George Richards: Since joining the Panthers, Yandle’s 30 goals and 231 points rank eighth in the NHL amongst defensemen. His 114 power play points rank fourth.