Keith Yandle’s Defense A Problem For New York Rangers?

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The New York Rangers‘ blockbuster deal at the trade deadline, in which they acquired defenseman Keith Yandle from the Arizona Coyotes, without a doubt, bolsters their offensive production from their defensive core and their overall team offense, due to Yandle’s great vision and passing ability.

However, Yandle is not all positives.  His weakness, or major weakness as some may say, is his defense.  We all know Yandle is an offensive minded defenseman, but with that being said, you still need to defend well, especially for someone playing a position with the word “defense” in the title.

Now from what I understand is Yandle’s problem, it is not really his defensive fundamentals that many call into question, but it is just that he puts himself in difficult situations to defend sometimes because of his aggressiveness.

What is scary is that I have already seen, in just two games played in a Rangers’ uniform, that Yandle’s aggressiveness can get in the way and actually hurt the team instead of help.

Yandle may have great vision on the ice but there are some situations where he thinks he is better than he actually is.  In both games as a Ranger, I have seen Yandle try to thread the needle and force a pass through traffic, leading to a turnover in the neutral or defensive zone, resulting in a scoring chance against.

The word “reckless” has even been thrown around in association with Yandle’s play, and his -33 +/- on the season definitely does not help his case, but you cannot entirely trust said stat.  One has to remember that for most of the season Yandle played with the Coyotes, a team currently in 2nd to last in their division with only 49 points, and with a goaltender, in Mike Smith, who is having an absolutely horrible season in net.

So Yandle’s defense, on paper, looks worse than it actually is but is it still a problem for the Rangers?

The Rangers already have a defenseman who is more offensive than he is defensive, in Dan Boyle, and now adding another defenseman who is the same way could hurt their team defense if head coach Alain Vigneault is not careful.

With Yandle added to the starting lineup, Vigneault must pay extra attention to which side of the ice the faceoff is in because you do not want the Yandle/Boyle pair on when the faceoff is in the defensive zone.  It is just not smart and I am sure Vigneault is aware of this…I hope.

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All in all, as we near the end of the regular season and head into the playoffs, we will see if Yandle’s offensive ability can outweigh his subpar defense.  If not, and this move does not lead to a Stanley Cup championship at the end of this season, you can look at this trade as a failure for this organization.

There is really no middle ground.  Trading for Yandle will either be a complete success or an immense failure, and only time will tell which one it is.

Next: James Sheppard: Deadline Deal Solidifies New York Rangers Fourth Line?

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