With Ryan Suter — not to mention Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Dennis Wideman and just about any other proven free-agent defenseman — signing somewhere other than Hockeytown, the obvious next step was to figure out where the Detroit Red Wings might turn now.
And tops on the list is Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, whose name came up repeatedly during the NHL Draft as a possible trade candidate, for the Wings and others. One problem (aside from the fact that the Coyotes might not be in much of a rush to trade Yandle), from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
However, if the Coyotes get a serious enough offer for Yandle, my guess is they’d rather move him to the Eastern Conference, where several teams have been nibbling already.
OK, that’s two problems …
The first being the obvious one: Detroit’s not in the Eastern Conference. Yandle isn’t exactly a Hall of Famer, but he’s a solid top-four, maybe even top-two defenseman, coming off three straight 40-plus-point seasons. If the Coyotes opt to deal him and there’s interest in the East, then it makes sense for them to avoid sending Yandle to a team they’ll be battling against for a playoff spot.
Issue No. 2: If “several teams” have dipped a toe in the water here and we already know there’s a weak crop of free-agent defensemen, odds are that Phoenix will be able to score a pretty decent haul for Yandle. Valterri Filppula feels like too high a cost for Yandle, and it’s uncertain that Detroit would package a bunch of prospects — trading Brendan Smith to get another defenseman, for example, doesn’t really make a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things.
It’s one thing for Detroit to get into a bidding war in free agency, where it has tons of cap space to spend. It’s another to be locked in that sort of battle in a trade, because the Wings don’t have a ton of movable pieces, and may be hesitant to unload the ones they do.
Long story short, is Yandle an option? Sure. But he might not be the easy answer that some people think.