Another day; another buyout.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Florida Panthers reportedly intend to buy out the remaining two years of defenceman, Keith Yandle’s contract, which carries an average annual value of $6.35 million. With Yandle having a no-move clause, the veteran blueliner will have to clear waivers before the transaction can be made official, although all indications appear to suggest that is nothing more than a formality.
As a result, Yandle will now count against the Panthers’ cap for the next four seasons, forcing the team to absorb a total of $10,216,668 over that period in the form of $2,341,667 in year one, $5,391,667 in year two, and $1,241,667 in years three and four.
As such, another big-name defender prepares to hit the free-agent market.
This is not an entirely surprising outcome for Yandle, who will turn 35 prior to next season. Despite a dwindling role in recent years, the veteran blueliner’s offensive production has never been the issue, with Yandle putting up an impressive 27 points for the Panthers in the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign while suiting up for all 56 of Florida’s games.
Yandle, in fact, is only two seasons removed from a career-best 62 points in 82 games in 2018-19, proving somewhat he still carries value if deployed correctly. However, a defenceman, as the name suggests, must also be able to defend. And Yandle’s defensive impact has not managed to keep up with the rest of his game, undergoing a particularly steep dip in recent years evidenced by his rapidly declining ice time that dropped to just 17:15 last season, his lowest average since 2008-09.
Despite holding the second-longest iron man streak in NHL history with 922 consecutive regular seasons games played, the Panthers reportedly valued Yandle’s defence so little in 2021 that they threatened to scratch him on numerous occasions, ultimately doing so for three of the team’s six games in their first-round playoff series versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The harsh reality is, the writing had been on the wall for quite some time.
Once Yandle officially comes off the books, the Panthers will gain an extra $4,008,333 in cap space this off-season. That should help find deals for pending-free agents such as Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, and Lucas Wallmark.
Buckle up. The summer frenzy is just beginning.