New York Rangers only have one solution for Yandle


Rangers running out of options on pending UFA Yandle

For a good chunk of the year, some of the talk surrounding the New York Rangers has revolved around the future. No, I’m not talking about the prospects in the Rangers’ system, I’m talking about the pending unrestricted free agent status of defenseman Keith Yandle.

The 29-year-old is having another stellar season, having posted 27 assists and 31 points through 56 games for a Rangers outfit that is currently second in the Metropolitan Division. Yandle has played a key role in the success of the Rangers this season and remained a steady presence even as questions swirled around just what was wrong with normally-studly defensemen Dan Girardi and Marc Staal.

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Obviously, in a perfect world, the Rangers would love to lock down Yandle for the next four to six years and enjoy having him in the lineup on a nightly basis going forward. But this isn’t the pre-cap era where the Rangers could just throw large piles of cash in whichever direction they please.

No, the Rangers find themselves in something of a cap conundrum going into the summer. They have about $1 million of projected space going into this offseason and have the task of re-signing restricted free agents Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller. Not only that, but defenseman Dan Boyle is an unrestricted free agent, meaning they’ll either have to pony up to keep him in the fold or face another hole to fill.

If that weren’t bad enough, there are rumors that the 2016-17 salary cap could actually be going down as opposed to up slightly as was previously mentioned.

So with space dwindling and younger members of the core needing new deals, that leaves the Rangers with one option: hold on to Yandle through the trade deadline, let him play out his contract and then watch him take a big fat deal to play elsewhere.

Really, what are the other options? Sure, the Rangers could trade him and get something, anything for him instead of letting him walk away. The problem with that scenario is that the Rangers are currently in the thick of a playoff dogfight involving themselves and about four other teams for the two remaining playoff spots in the Metropolitan Division. Trading away arguably your best defenseman can’t help in the race to lock up the second spot.

It’s not an easy dump as it was for Arizona, Yandle’s former club. The Coyotes were clearly in a rebuild and had their eye of the future. The Rangers are in the now and have the potential to make another deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Trading Yandle away will seem like the Rangers are admitting defeat, giving up hope on any kind of playoff run and instead looking towards the future. How do you think the blue shirt faithful will take that?

For teams like the Rangers, the obvious goal is to keep everyone in the mix for as long as possible. Having said that, the landscape of the salary cap era just doesn’t make that possible. Difficult decisions need to be made and ties with popular or quality players are cut on the regular because the salary cap says it must be.

Next: Could the salary cap dip see Rick Nash moved?

So for the Rangers, the choice is simple: ride Yandle until his contract expires, hope to get a deep playoff run out of him and then try to reconfigure things in the summer. Or find a way to magically dump a few albatross contracts *cough*RickNash*cough*. Whichever is easier.