- According to reports, Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle has “fallen out of favor” with the team, putting iron man streak in jeopardy
- The Detroit Red Wings have named Dylan Larkin the 37th captain in franchise history
- Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is on the hunt for a top-six winger, according to reports
Folks, as I sit here and write this, we are about three hours away from the puck dropping at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to kick off the 2021 NHL season. If that doesn’t get you amped, well, perhaps some news and notes from around the league might help.
Yandle “Fallen Out of Favor” With Panthers
According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, veteran defenseman Keith Yandle has “fallen out of favor” with the Florida Panthers organization, putting his 866 consecutive games played iron man streak in serious jeopardy.
The streak is the longest active one in the NHL and has spanned 11 calendar years.
“Keith Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Florida Panthers,” Seravalli said on TSN’s Insider Trading. “They’ve let it be known to him that he does not factor into their plans for this season. And think in a perfect world for the Panthers, they would send Yandle to the taxi squad. But in this case, he holds the hammer with a full no-move clause and cannot be put on waivers without his permission.
Yandle has three seasons remaining at a $6.35M cap hit on a seven-year deal he signed with the Panthers in 2016.
“So, the plan at this point is to make Keith Yandle a healthy scratch at some point. It may be on Opening Night. They’ve got some time.”
The 34-year-old Yandle notched five goals and 45 points in 69 games with the Panthers just last season, which is why this news comes as a bit of a shock. Over four seasons in Florida, Yandle’s 204 points ranks seventh among all NHL defensemen while only Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Duncan Keith have accumulated more points by a defenseman than Yandle since he entered the league back in the 2006-07 season.
Should he begin the season as a healthy scratch, it would certainly be a bitter end to his impressive iron man streak.
Red Wings Give Larkin the ‘C’
After playing without a captain following Henrik Zetterberg’s retirement after the 2017-18 season, the Detroit Red Wings have found their new leader in Dylan Larkin.
After five seasons with the team, the Wings named Larkin the 37th captain in franchise history on Wednesday.
The journey. pic.twitter.com/PPJyxwL9MX
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021
The team’s first-round pick in 2014, Larkin burst onto the scene with 23 goals and 45 points as a rookie in the 2015-16 season before tallying a career-high 73 points three seasons later. Even with the Red Wings’ historically bad offense last season, the Michigan native managed 53 points in 71 games as the club plummeted to the bottom of the NHL standings.
Larkin will be tasked with leading a rebuilding Red Wings team back towards contention. He is part of a young core along with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi that will hopefully soon be joined by the likes of Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov and 2020 fourth overall pick Lucas Raymond sooner than later.
Considering his Michigan roots, his single season playing at the University of Michigan and his standing as the team’s undisputed best player, it was only a matter of time before Larkin become the storied franchise’s next leader.
Canucks Eyeing Top-Six Winger
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is eyeing a top-six winger in an effort to add offense to his roster.
“There’s an all-in approach with the Vancouver Canucks,” Dreger said, “They’re certainly adamant that they’re not taking a step back. They love their defense, they love the adds on that blueline, they like their goaltending, they think that is is very solid despite the fact that they lost Jacob Markstrom to the Calgary Flames in free agency. They’re curious about Nils Hoglander as a top-six winger They like what they’ve seen in camp, but can he maintain that role throughout the course of the season? They’ve got [Vasily] Podkolzin, who they want to sign at the end of April so he an be in the mix as early as the beginning of May.
“But Jim Benning is definitely looking at the market and hunting for a top-six winger.”
The spot Benning is attempting to fill was vacated when he allowed Tyler Toffoli to walk in free agency. Toffoli notched six goals and 10 points in 10 games down the regular-season stretch for Vancouver, but was not retained and moved on to the Montreal Canadiens on a four-year deal in free agency.
The Canucks’ offense ranked eighth last season, and the top-line trio of J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser will be heavily leaned on to carry the load again this season. With Tanner Pearson finding a home alongside captain Bo Horvat on the club’s second line, they’re now in search of a right winger to skate with that duo. Jake Virtanen is seemingly the best current fit, but he’s un available to the team to start its season Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Miller is also out for the opener (undisclosed).
Along with Markstrom, top-four defenseman Chris Tanev and depth scorer Josh Leivo also signed with the rival Flames on the open market. They Canucks countered such moves by trading for Nate Schmidt from the Golden Knights and most recently signing former Flames rearguard Travis Hamonic to a one-year deal. Veteran netminder Braden Holtby was also brought in as the 1B option behind Thatcher Demko.
If Benning and his team don’t plan on taking that step back, they’ll certainly have plenty to prove after an uninspiring offseason that saw more talent depart than brought in or retained.