Winnipeg Jets: Panthers Buy Out Keith Yandle; Should the Jets Sign Him?

Florida Panthers, Keith Yandle (3). Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Florida Panthers, Keith Yandle (3). Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

A reoccurring theme on our site through the past couple of weeks is how the Winnipeg Jets are going to address their defensive issues from last season. The Jets may fix these issues by adding players through free agency and/or by way of trade.

Yesterday I wrote about Ryan Suter and if the Jets should consider signing him after his contract was bought out by the Minnesota Wild. Today we have a similar storyline as there is another veteran defenseman who was bought out by his franchise and will be a free agent come July 28.

That player is Keith Yandle and the Florida Panthers announced this morning that they have bought out the remaining two years left on his seven-year contract that carried an average annual value of $6,350,000 per season. That now leaves the Jets another free agent option and the question is:

Should the Winnipeg Jets pursue Keith Yandle’s signature when he hits free agency?

Keith Yandle, who will be thirty-five at the start of the 2021-2022 season, is a terrific offensive-minded defenseman but has a poor defending track record. With that being said, is this the type of player the Jets want to add to their ranks as they look to contend for the Stanley Cup next season?

When looking at Yandle’s stats over his career, one stat that is eye-opening is his plus/minus. In 1032 NHL games played, Yandle is a minus-56 and in his past five seasons with the Panthers, he amassed a minus-24 plus/minus.

In the past season alone, the Boston, Massachusetts native was a minus-eight while appearing in 56 games and averaging just over seventeen minutes per game. Another way to look at this is by looking at Yandle’s even-strength stats. During the 2021 season, Yandle averaged 12:45 of even-strength ice time per game and was on the ice for 34 even-strength goals against.

Yandle makes up for this with his offensive production, especially on the powerplay. Last season was Yandle’s worst in terms of offensive production since the shortened 2012-2013 season but he still had a great total of three goals and 24 assists which finished him tied for 29th in the NHL among defensemen in points.

Yandle is an x-factor on the powerplay. Last season he had 18 points (one goal, 17 assists) on the man advantage, which made him among the top-21 highest point scorers on the powerplay throughout the whole league. Yandle is without a doubt one of the best powerplay defensemen in the NHL.

Why the Winnipeg Jets should stay away from Keith Yandle?

Winnipeg already has a player similar to Yandle in their ranks in Neal Pionk. Pionk is the Jets’ best offensive defenseman and has gotten better each season defensively. Also, Pionk is a pending RFA and is due for a pay raise with his recent performances. This may limit the Jets’ spending in free agency.

There is no need for the Jets to go after Yandle. His ice time has decreased per game over the last three seasons and although he may provide the Jets’ blue line with an offensive spark, the Jets are much better suited going after a defensive defenseman rather than an offensive-minded one.

Winnipeg Jets Fans: Do you think the Winnipeg Jets should try to sign Yandle or go after a different defenseman? Leave your comments below!

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*All Stats Provided by the NHL*