With the trade deadline approaching on April 3 and the Detroit Red Wings winning three straight against Western Conference opponents, it looks like the Red Wings could be buyers at the deadline. Chances are that if the Red Wings make a move, it would be for a top-four defenseman who is under contract for future seasons.
The Red Wings' only option for adding a higher-end defenseman is to swing a trade. They had some conversations at the draft with Phoenix about Keith Yandle, but the Coyotes might not trade him. And if they do, the price would be steep.
You'd have to assume that the Red Wings would still be interested in Yandle, as he has played great this season.
Yandle, who is signed through the end of the 2015-16 season with a cap hit of $5.25 million per season (via capgeek.com), is the type of defenseman most of the NHL would want.
If Yandle is actually on the trade market, expect the price tag to be very high. This is why the pros and cons need to be examined to determine if the Red Wings should pursue Yandle.
Yandle is still young at 26 years old and hasn't even hit his prime yet. The most important quality he brings to a team is his ability to quarterback a power play.
Yandle is a consistent threat offensively for a defenseman and has a career average of 0.51 points per game. He can also play in any situation and is currently averaging over 22 minutes of ice time this season.
Should the Detroit Red Wings pursue defenseman Keith Yandle?
Yandle has made improvements overall offensively. In his shots per game, he is averaging a career high of 3.03, which is better than his career average of 2.11 per game. Yandle is leading the league in overall shots with 97 and has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) with six points coming on the power play.
While Yandle won't be able to fill the shoes of retired future Hall-of-Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, he would be able to greatly improve the power play for the Red Wings.
Yandle and defenseman Niklas Kronwall could be a great top pairing and be able to help the forwards with their outlet passes.
Yandle is also durable, as he has not missed a game since the 2008-09 season. So he doesn't have any injury concerns that would cause him to decline before his contract expires.
There is only one con when it comes to the Red Wings looking to acquire Yandle: his price tag.
With Yandle under a long-term contract, the Coyotes will be looking to remake their team with any Yandle trade.
Coyotes assistant general manager Don Maloney addressed the Yandle trade rumors with The Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan on Jan. 15, trying to play down the rumors, but also left the door open (h/t CBS Sports):
"Keith's an assistant captain. He's part of our core," Maloney said. "He's been here since I've been here, and in order to have success, you have to have your core players.
"He's no different than any other player we have that, if the deal is right—but it has to be really, really right for us to think of a guy like Keith, Marty Hanzal, the guys that have been here, our core players. We want to keep our core players."
Translation: Yandle is available for the right price.
That price would be huge for the Red Wings, as it would cause them to lose several young players.
Perhaps a package starting with Brian Lashoff, Tomas Tatar, Petr Mrazek and probably Riley Sheahan.
While Red Wings fans might think that package would be too much, remember Yandle can be a Norris trophy candidate and every fanbase values their prospects a little too highly.
The Red Wings would need to think twice about how much potential their remaining young players would have, as well as about managing the salary cap in the future with Yandle's cap hit.
Yandle is a special player who can add a dimension to a team's offense that not many other defensemen are capable of.
Though the cost would be extremely high, if the Red Wings decide Yandle is a difference-maker they need to go all out in trying to trade for him before April 3.
*All statistics are as of March 25
**All statistics are from hockey-reference.com