Look, no one knows if Keith Yandle will be the next coming of Brian Leetch or Tom Poti.
And no one knows if this move will put the Rangers over the top.
But he surely helps, especially with the playoffs coming.
“He’s a player who has tremendous skills offensively,” said Ranger Captain Ryan McDonagh. “He can be relied on to play a ton of minutes. I met him once. – I talked to him at the Olympic camp this past summer and he’s a great guy in the room. A couple of [Rangers] from the Boston area know him. He fit right in here today.”
The biggest risk, when you make a move like this in hockey, is how a player will affect the chemistry of the rest of the team. This isn’t like baseball, where you can trade for a malcontent third baseman and plug him in the lineup batting sixth. There needs to be a connection with the new guy and the Rangers seem to have it with Yandle.
“The coaches and all the guys made it easy on me, kind of step by step, taking it one shift at a time,” Yandle said. “I thought the coaches did a great job helping me out in the little time we had before the game, getting me familiar with the system.”
Once Yandle’s play becomes more fluid, it will make Alain Vigneault’s job much easier. Because the Rangers have six solid blueliners, the coach will be able to balance the minutes during the playoffs. Having McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, and Dan Boyle play only 20 minutes a night will help as the Blueshirts go deeper into the playoffs.
“It should help us from the back end, hopefully play at a faster pace,” Vigneault said. “If we can spread out the minutes, the guys, when they are on, they can play it faster, quicker, get up in the play. It should make us a better team at both ends of the rink.”
That’s the goal, as the Rangers will look to be the dominate force in the East come April. With Henrik Lundqvist back in a few weeks, the Rangers may go into the playoffs with the strongest back end in the league.
Add to that the solid top two lines and a third and fourth that can hold its own and you can see why this is considered a Stanley Cup contender.
Look Glen Sather is 71. He probably won’t have a better chance than now to win another Cup. That’s why he mortgaged the future for this shot.
After beating the best team in the league tonight – the Nashville Predators – 4-1, you got the glimpses of greatness.
“This was a good test for us to see where we are against the No. 1 team in the NHL at this point,” Vigneault said. “The guys knew they had a real strong challenge.”
Yandle had a good game one. Now he has to build upon this and hopefully help the Blueshirts over the top.