The unknown future of the Phoenix Coyotes didn't play into Keith Yandle's(notes) decision to re-sign with the team as his agent Jerome Buckley pointed out last week while negotiations were still on-going.
While some free agents may be scared off in signing a long-term deal in Phoenix given that they may not be there in a year's time, Yandle showed his commitment to the organization and took a nice pay raise at the same time.
After signing a five-year, $26.25 million deal Tuesday, Yandle's cap hit is just $300,000 more than Michal Roszival's $5 million. That's Glen Sather for you.
The 24-year-old Yandle is coming off a career season that saw him net 11 goals and 59 points, good for third among all NHL defensemen.
"The more the merrier," said Yandle when asked about the length of the deal. "The longer I can get locked up, especially to be in a place like Phoenix and raise a family ... it's a great place to live and it's a great place to play, too."
"Keith is an important part of our team. He's an assistant captain, he fits into our culture and he fits into our future," said Coyotes GM Don Maloney.
"I thought if we looked at the term and even the dollars spent, I thought it was good value for a top, young Norris Trophy-potential defenseman that I believe still has upside to his game."
Yandle also mentioned that the first offer he was approached with by Maloney was also a five-year deal. A longer-term deal was part of the earlier discussions between Maloney and Yandle's agent.
Yandle was a restricted free agent after making $1.3 million this past season. Despite the fan obsession with offer sheets, there seemed to be no interest in a club attempting to sign Yandle to one, but the trade rumors that Maloney called "pure, utter fantasy" during the season continued as July 1 approached. With the Coyotes working on a budget set by the NHL, Maloney could only offer so much to Yandle, but in the end it's far from an overpayment.
Considering the current market of throwing bags of money at players, it's a fair deal for a young up-and-coming defenseman who's seen his production rise every year since entering the NHL. More importantly, Yandle being locked up for five years gives Maloney a player to build around as the Coyotes go through a transition phase with numerous new faces entering the fray over the past year.