Alain Vigneault gives insight into Keith Yandle’s role on the Flyers

NHL: FEB 25 Panthers at Coyotes
GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 25: Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (3) looks on before the NHL hockey game between the Florida Panthers and the Arizona Coyotes on February 25, 2020 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)

Before Chuck Fletcher really started to attack the offseason, he made a series of cheap and cheerful signings. The addition of 34-year-old Keith Yandle was one of them. Flyers Head Coach, Alain Vigneault, met with reporters on Friday and discussed his fit with the team.

I think Yands is more of a power play and a 5-on-5 individual. I think with the additions we’ve made, from Cam, to Brass, to Keith, to the players we already have here who have power play experience. We’ve got some options. Now, we’ve got to figure out what best fits, what chemistry best fits together. The opportunity of having six exhibition games gives us that, so we’re going to try the different scenarios, different possibilities. Depending on how the guys perform, we’ll do what’s best for the team.

– Alain Vigneault

It’s hardly surprising to hear AV mentions he power play first. Like several of the team’s offseason acquisitions, Yandle excels in that area. 17 of his 24 assists came on the power play last year with a further 19 recorded in 2019-20. While his production did dip last season, it’s what ultimately led him into free agency to begin with and back into same locker room as Alain Vigneault.

Yands right now is at another stage of his career. He’s probably, in my estimation, a very good player. I don’t think he’s a Top-4 anymore, but he is, in my mind, a regular Top-6 defenseman. Because he’s got that power play capability, where he sees the ice real well and he knows when to put it on net and when to dish it off. He’s going to be a big addition, whether it’s on our first unit or second unit. We’re going to have to see how Ryan does, how Provy does, and put the different pieces together to see what best fits this group. Yands is going to be a good player for us. You can never have enough defenseman. With Sam not being at camp right now, and Sam finished on a positive note. People are fighting right now for seventh, eighth, ninth spot in our depth chart because at the end of the day, your seventh defenseman, most of the years, plays sixty games because there’s always some injuries. That’s just part of the equation.

– Alain Vigneault

After being so light on the blue line last year, adding a player who is as durable as he is experienced was a wise move. Yandle famously holds the longest active streak of consecutive games in the NHL (922). His presence alone will allow someone like Cam York to ease into his NHL transition, while giving the Flyers an insurance policy in the event of an injury, like that sustained by Sam Morin.

As the Flyers continue down a path of transition, having veterans such as Yandle being able to take on a bottom-six role and mentor the younger players will be invaluable. While his production and value may be dwindling, his familiarity with Vigneault’s methods and proven leadership could be just as valuable to a team looking to solidify a core for the next five years or so.

Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire