Did Keith Yandle ‘Sonk’ the Flyers?

Flyers' Keith Yandle
BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 13: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle (3) passes up ice during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 13, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

With the recent eleven game losing streak, people have been trying to place the blame on someone. Many are looking towards veteran defenseman Keith Yandle, but is he as bad as we think?

Let’s take a look to see what Yandle’s numbers actually are and if signing him during this offseason was a mistake.

The Signing

Chuck Fletcher signed Keith Yandle in late July 2021. Coming off of a decent season with the Panthers, signing Yandle at $900k AAV for one year seemed like a great idea at the time.

During his last season with the Panthers, Yandle played 56 games with 3 goals and 24 assists during the regular season. He ended it with a +/- of -8.

He had a good amount of points, and a -8 doesn’t seem too bad. But when the Panthers finished out their season with a +36 goal differential, it shows that he was on his way out of the Panthers organization. However, with what Fletcher was looking at, Yandle was looking like a very good veteran defenseman who could play on the Flyers third pair as support and give them a boost on the power play, since Yandle averages most of his points on special teams.

There is no blaming Fletcher for doing this either. The locker room needed a switch-up based on how terrible the 2021 shortened season was, so bringing “funny man” Yandle on a cheap, no-risk deal was almost too good of an opportunity to pass up.

This Season

Keith Yandle is playing like his age (35), to say the least. It’s no secret that Yandle has been the reason for some of the goals that the Flyers have given up. His turnovers are high, he is not playing with the hockey IQ that he had last year. Now, some of this can be blamed on coaching (since there practically is none) but Yandle is not playing like he should.

So far this season, Yandle has 0 goals, 13 assists, and his +/- is -21. He was kicked off of PP1 for Cam York recently, which is also troubling for the veteran defenseman. He is averaging around 13 minutes a night, which has been going down more and more as this season continues.

The Upside of Yandle

So far this season, as mentioned earlier, Yandle ranks second in assists from defensemen with 13. 8 of those assists are power-play assists and with how terrible the power play has been this season, one is able to assume that might be all of the power-play goals that the Flyers have this season. Yandle is also able to create chances throughout the entirety of the game.

Yandle seems to have just been snake bitten. It isn’t like he isn’t trying. He has 65 shots on the season, not a single one of them going in. Yandle is at least setting up chances for others through that, but that obviously isn’t enough for fans to see.

So, Did Flyers Get ‘Sonked’?

Comparing Keith Yandle to someone like Andrew MacDonald who plagued the Flyers defense for years, Yandle is a steal. MacDonald did not have nearly as many points, cost millions more, and was the worst defenseman this team had seen in years. On the other side, comparing Keith Yandle to someone like Erik Gustafsson (who the Flyers only had for 24 games last year, and had 1 goal and 9 assists), they are eerily similar.

Obviously, Yandle isn’t the only problem with the Flyers. Fletcher did the right thing in signing the ironman. He put the locker room first and knew the Flyers needed a veteran defenseman presence. It is a shame that Yandle isn’t playing up to his potential. It seems that Yandle is only a product of his environment and isn’t as much of a play-maker that is needed in the Flyers organization. He has his problems, but there are bigger fish to fry within the Flyers. Once Yandle reaches his ironman streak, maybe fans will take the spotlight off him and realize that he isn’t the only issue.

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)