Desert Dog All-Star

Last night against the Colorado Avalanche Keith Yandle just showed the NHL just why he should have been included in the All-Star Game all along instead of being a late entry due to injuries. Yes he was up against some stiff competition but anyone who thinks he isn’t an All-Star based on this season should go watch some of his highlights or, even easier, go look at the standings for NHL defensemen.

With a goal and an assist last night in Colorado, Yandle became the highest scoring defenseman in the NHL. That’s right, he is ahead of the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom and is also ahead of Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Kris Letang and Lubomir Visnovsky. Yandle was the NHL’s first star of the game, and with last night’s points, he extends his scoring streak to nine games.

The Boston native has been a part of the Coyotes franchise since 2005 when he was drafted in the fourth round (105th overall). The last couple of years have been big for Yandle in terms of progression with Coyotes fans having seen Yandle transform from a rookie to an All-Star in only 252 games.

Shane Doan, captain of the Coyotes, had plenty of great things to say about his team-mate following the news that Yandle would be heading to the All-Star game.

“He’s a legitimate, bona fide No. 1 d-man and we’re lucky to have him,” he said. “He is an incredible player and the players in the League understand and know how incredibly talented he is.”

High praise indeed from his captain. Dave Tippet also had some nice things to say about the way his leading points scorer has improved his game.

“It’s not just the points, it’s his all-around game that has really come to the forefront,” the Coyotes coach said about Yandle. “He’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”

He certainly does at that. Yandle always looked like he could be a potential offensive threat from the blue-line but he seems to have worked a lot on the defensive side of his game in the last year as well. He now regularly plays against the best players the opposition has and, more often than not, he has come up trumps.

Out of the 51 games he has played, Yandle has a plus-4 rating which may not be the best on the team or in the NHL but it is certainly respectable. With a career high 44 points gained already and with 31 games to go, Yandle could find himself around the 60 point mark at the end of the regular season.

Coyotes fans will be desperate for Don Maloney to sit down with Yandle and sort out a lengthy contract as the Coyotes try to improve the franchise both on and off the ice.

With so much time on Yandle’s side, the chance to build a competitive team around him and the likes of Ilya Bryzgalov should be enough to convince Maloney to splash the cash on Yandle should he demand it.

For more from James Tennant, check out his blog at yourarmchairpundit.blogspot.com

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