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Is it finally time for the Arizona Coyotes to trade Keith Yandle?

Keith Yandle has been the subject of trade rumors for years. Will the Coyotes finally deal him?

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Yandle has been here before. He's heard the chatter, answered the reporters' questions, contemplated the potential scenarios.

He's prepared to receive that phone call, or be pulled into Don Maloney's office, and pack his bags, say goodbye to his teammates, his coaches, his home and start fresh elsewhere.

At this point, how could he not be ready?

"It's one of those things where it seems like every year I hear my name," he told Pierre LeBrun of "I'm immune to it now. I don't take any of it personally. I tell myself that it's a good thing other teams want you. It's been talked about for the last six years, and you just have to play it by year."

Indeed, Yandle knows what it's like to be the subject of trade speculation. It's become something of a tradition to discuss potential deals for the Cushing Academy product. When you're a good player on a bad club located in a struggling market, it comes with the territory.

In past seasons, the Coyotes have been reluctant to move Yandle in hopes of building a cost-efficient winner with their present foundation. This, of course, hasn't worked out as planned.

At 19-26-6, Arizona is on pace for 70 points, which would result in its third-worst campaign since moving to the desert. Such a decline has Maloney, general manager since 2007, prepared for a rebuild, meaning Yandle -- along with Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek, among others -- might be on the way out.

Yandle is only 28 and could be a part of the next era, but he could garner a significant return, as well. And since he has one more year left on his contract for a reasonable $5.5 million, the Coyotes could get far more for him than if he were simply a rental.

According to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, Arizona could want a young roster player, a prospect and a draft pick for the star rearguard -- a steep price, yes, but guys like Yandle don't come around often.

A good way to put his skill set into perspective is by using Dominic Galamini's new HERO charts (explained here). To summarize: these numbers remove the effects of usage -- quality of teammates, quality of competition and zone starts -- to isolate individual production.

Yandle's chart is impressive, to say the least:


He's not a shutdown defenseman who thrives in his own zone, as evident by his pedestrian usage adjusted Corsi. He is, however, a prototypical "puck-moving D-man" who generates lots of shots and is capable of handling big minutes.

His one weakness appears to be shot suppression, a weakness that can be masked with proper deployment and a strong supporting cast.

Undoubtedly, Yandle's offensive prowess is his greatest strength. With 36 points (4 goals, 32 assists), he's currently fifth in points among NHL defensemen. His shooting percentage is just 2.5, so one should expect him to experience an uptick in goals sooner or later. Furthermore, his on-ice shooting percentage is only 8.3, so all those assists aren't products of good luck.

If a contender is struggling on the man-advantage, there aren't many -- if any -- better options.

If anything, his output should only improve down the stretch.

Yandle is especially valuable on the power play. His 21 points (1 goal, 20 assists) during 5-on-4 action are tied for most in the NHL with Claude Giroux. If a contender is struggling on the man-advantage, there aren't many (if any) better options.

Anaheim, who has an average power play and is receiving little offense from its blue liners, could certainly benefit from acquiring the left-handed D-man. Detroit could benefit, too, and has lots of youthful, enticing assets to offer.

But let's not put the cart before the horse. While Arizona is open to trade talks, it doesn't seem to be in any rush to pull the trigger.

"We don't have enough Keith Yandles," Maloney noted. "That's not to say if a deal comes along in the next week or the next month or at the draft ... but he's still a relatively young player that does something better than most players in the league."

Something else to keep in mind: Arizona has to worry about the salary cap floor, and Vermette, Michalek and Martin Erat are slated to become unrestricted free agents this spring. Shane Doan and Sam Gagne come off the books after 2015-16, when they'll make nearly $10 million combined.

Since the Coyotes will have to dole out a lot of cash over the next few years to remain above the floor (and somewhat competitive), better to give an expensive contract to Yandle -- proven, skilled, consistent -- than risk overpaying someone far worse.

If Yandle is open to extension talks, it may be best to hold onto him -- at least through the end of 2014-15. If he can't be re-signed in the summer, the Coyotes could still get a large return for his services.