Geek of the Week: Keith Yandle Getting Better With Age

by Scott Maran on March 24, 2019

It’s not too often that you see players post career years after they turn 30, yet Keith Yandle has only gotten better with age. Since coming to Florida, he has been an offensive dynamo and has unexpectedly had one of the most productive fantasy seasons out of all NHL skaters this year.

Once considered an elite offensive defenseman in the beginning of his career with the Arizona Coyotes, Yandle recorded the third-most points out of all defensemen from 2009 to 2015. He broke the 50-point mark three times in a single season and would have recorded another one if not for the lockout. His play began taking a slight dip with the New York Rangers though and, in his first year joining the Florida Panthers, Yandle had his lowest offensive output over the last 10 years. A season total of 41 points in 82 games is far from bad. However, it was starting to look like we had seen the best that Yandle had to offer once he had hit 30 years of age.

But over the past two years Yandle has exploded back into consideration as one of the top offensive defenders, scoring the fifth-most points by any defenseman over the last two seasons. In the fantasy hockey realm, Yandle has unexpectedly provided elite value, even more than he had in some of his best years with the Coyotes. Our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool rates Yandle as the sixth-most valuable skater in the entire NHL (using an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits).



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This season Yandle has seen his best offensive output of his career, recording 58 points through 74 games (putting him on pace to break the 60-point mark for the first time in his career). He’s also back to shooting the puck more, looking to eclipse 200 shots for the first time since leaving Arizona.

But there are plenty of other defensemen who can put up a lot of points too. Brent Burns and Mark Giordano are each above the 70-point mark, while Morgan Rielly and John Carlson have already passed 60 points on the year. What makes Yandle the fifth-most valuable skater are his immense power-play totals. His 38 power-play points are by far the most in the league by a defenseman, as he has seven more power-play points than second-place John Carlson. No defenseman has had more than 35 power-play points in the last five years and Yandle’s power play totals are the most since Nicklas Lidstrom scored 39 with the man advantage in 2010.

Why are we seeing such an insane output from Yandle? He’s always been a dominant force with the man-advantage, so we shouldn’t so surprised to see a stellar season from him. His power-play usage has steadily grown more advantageous over the years, as his average power-play time has gone up by over 30 seconds since 2016. Combined with the Florida Panthers’ lethal power-play unit this season (ranked second overall in PP%), Yandle has blossomed in his role on the Panthers’ first unit.

Though he won’t provide a lot of value in hits, Yandle has willed his way to the top of the fantasy rankings purely based on excellent offensive production, highlighted by a historic season-long performance on the power play. Yandle isn’t the first person that comes to mind when one thinks of elite fantasy value, but this season there hasn’t been many who’ve been able to provide more value than him.