Can You Yandle This?
czechtacular on Wed, 2011-07-06 14:33
Rolaids might have to borrow a certain Phoenix defenseman if they want to bring back the old catchphrase.
How do you spell relief? Y-A-N-D-L-E.
The former CHL Defenseman of the Year, who finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting last season after leading all NHL defensemen in scoring right around his first (and likely not his last) All-Star Game appearance has signed on for five more years--yes, five--with the Coyotes, in a deal reportedly worth $26.25 million.
Yandle was one of the main subjects of talks surrounding potential offer sheet targets. But, rather than pursuing any temptations of playing for a market with more exposure, he showed how much he believed in the team that brought him to the pros, regardless of the clouds surrounding their future.
And Phoenix believes in him, too. Free agency has taken its toll on the Coyotes' blueline, which only adds to the list of reasons Yandle will be looked to as a leader this year, as well as the years to come.
The 24-year-old racked up 11 goals and 48 assists in his first full season as an assistant captain for Phoenix, numbers that would eventually put him behind only Lubomir Visnovsky and Nicklas Lidstrom in the offensive defenseman category. Likewise, only Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan put more pucks on net for the Coyotes last season. On the back end, Yandle's early-career tendencies of jumping into the play too early have subsided enough to earn him a +12 rating, all the while eating up the most minutes on the team.
Really, $5.25 million per year is a value signing for a team that has its own, erm, disadvantages on the money side, and the fact that both sides avoided arbitration is a testament to how much they wanted to see eye-to-eye as quickly as possible.
The news comes as another young defenseman drafted from the Moncton Wildcats, Brandon Gormley, is about to enter development camp with 27 other Yotes' prospects including fellow blueliners Maxim Goncharov and 2011 first-round pick Connor Murphy, goaltenders Mark Visentin and Louis Domingue, forwards Brett Hextall and Chris Brown, and Hobey Baker award winner Andy Miele. The sessions, which are to be run at Polar Ice in Peoria, get underway on Thursday, July 7th and end on Sunday, July 10th.
Meanwhile, Phoenix has added other names to their roster via free agency, including Montrealer Alex Bolduc, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks' organization. In signing a one-year deal, the 6'3" forward adds depth to the centre position. Defenseman Tyler Eckford, who played four games with the New Jersey Devils last season and 37 with Lowell of the AHL, signed a one-year, two-way contract of his own and journeyman goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who has had the misfortune of being bounced around to three teams (Calgary, Ottawa, Anaheim) in under two seasons (!) has agreed to terms with the Coyotes, also in a one-year, two-way deal. Originally drafted in 2002 by the Flames in the 6th round, the 28-year-old managed two shutouts, a 2.99 GAA and a .903 save percentage despite going 9-13-1 in his 28 starts.