There seemed to be a growing divided between the Florida Panthers and Keith Yandle last season. Today, that divide has led to a buyout of the veteran defenseman.
Yandle turns 35 in September and had two seasons remaining on a seven-year, $44.45 million deal he signed in June 2016. That contract also had a no-movement clause. That meant Florida would have been forced to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft, and forced to expose a younger asset on defense.
Panthers buyout Keith Yandle
“We would like to extend a sincere thank you to Keith for all that he’s contributed to the Florida Panthers organization and to the South Florida community over the past five seasons,” general manager Bill Zito said in a news release. “While a decision of this kind is never an easy one to make, we believe that this shift is necessary as we look towards the 2021-22 season and our club’s future.”
Yandle carried a salary cap hit of $6.35 million for the next two seasons with Florida. Per multiple reports, the buyout will save the Panthers $4 million against the cap in 2021-22 and just under $1 million in 2022-23. It will add a charge of $1.24 million in 2023-24 and 2024-25.
Yandle tallied three goals and 24 assists in 56 games during the 2021-22 regular season.
The three-time All-Star has 600 points (102 goals, 498 assists) and 602 penalty minutes in 1,032 career games with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes (2006-15), New York Rangers (2015-16) and Panthers.
Where will Yandle continue his ironman streak?
Yandle owns the NHL’s longest active ironman streak, having played in 922 consecutive regular season games since March 2009. He is 42 games shy of the NHL record of 964 set by Doug Jarvis from 1975-87.
There are three likely destinations for Keith Yandle’s services now that he will be a UFA on July 28th. Last season, the Bruins and Flyers were rumored to be asking about his availability. Another team that could make a play for his services are the expansion Seattle Kraken. The Montreal Canadiens with Shea Weber out may present another opportunity.
Seattle will have an exclusivity window prior to the official opening of free agency to work out deals with players. Keith Yandle could very well be wearing a Kraken jersey come next season.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report