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The Keith Yandle Index

posted Jun 24, 2016, 9:47 AM by Robert Vollman
Did Florida go overboard in signing Keith Yandle to a 7-year contract worth $6.35 million per season? I think so.

Yandle is practically the prototype of a puck-moving, scoring-focused defenseman who isn’t trusted defensively. He’s used in the offensive zone, against secondary competition, and more often when the team is chasing a lead than when it is protecting one. He’s a power play specialist who is rarely used to kill penalties. 

To challenge my perspective and/or to illustrate my point, I built the Keith Yandle Index to find other defensemen like him. 

Here are the 10 categories in the Keith Yandle Index:
1. Between ages 28 and 30.
2. Scores at an even-strength rate of 1.0 points per 60 minutes, or greater.
3. Averages at least 3:00 minutes of power play ice time per game, or more
4. Has a scoring rate of 4.0 points per 60 minutes on the power play, or greater
5. Averages 0:30 seconds of shorthanded ice time per game, or less
6. Throws 2.0 hits per 60 minutes, or less
7. Has positive shot-based numbers, relative to his teammates
8. Ranks no higher than sixth in defensive zone start percentage, among his team’s defensemen
9. Ranks no higher than fifth in quality of competition, among his team’s defensemen
10. Didn’t miss a single game.

Going back to the 2008-09 season, the closest match was Brian Campbell in 2008-09 with the Chicago Blackhawks, who scored a 9/10. 

That’s probably a bad example because Campbell has just signed an 8-year contract worth over $57 million. Or, maybe it’s a good example, because ultimately this wasn’t seen as a good contract, and the Blackhawks had to jettison it to the Panthers a couple of years later.

On the plus side, Campbell became a much more well-rounded defenseman in Florida. He started killing penalties and taking on top opponents (for a few years), and responded to the more challenging role very well. Perhaps Yandle can, too.

There were five defensemen who scored 8/10, who might serve as better cautionary tales:
Marc-Andre Bergeron with the Minnesota Wild in 2008-09
Tobias Enstrom with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009-10
Kurtis Foster with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10
Tomas Kaberle with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009-10
Lubomir Visnovsky with the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks in 2009-10

Enstrom is a bad example because that was literally the one season where he didn’t kill penalties or take on top opponents, while Yandle’s been this way for his entire career. The other four are pretty solid examples, however. Should any of them signed a long-term contract as the 13th highest-paid defenseman?

Reaching down one more level, Dan Boyle, Christian Ehrhoff, Shayne Gostisbehere, John Klingberg, Brian Rafalski, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Mark Streit were all 7/10 at one point or another. I think those also serve as great examples, except that they were at different points in their careers. Several of the older defensemen were previously more complete, two-way defensemen, while the younger players may yet develop that side of their game. So, these might serve as better examples of which players are headed in Yandle’s direction, and where Yandle might go from here.