The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is a little more than a week away, and each team must have their protection list submitted by July 17, ahead of the July 21 draft. After a phenomenal regular season, the Florida Panthers are doing everything in their power to keep their star players together. However, one major problem might prevent them from doing so. Defenseman Keith Yandle, who accounts for $6.35 million of the Panthers’ cap space, has a no-movement clause (NMC) in his contract, and management must therefore use one of their protection slots on him. Florida must find a way to get Yandle off of the books. If a trade is not possible, the only other option is to buy out his contract.

Former Panthers general manager Tom Rowe signed Yandle to a $6.35 million contract with a NMC in 2016. Yandle was brought in to boost an already strong power play that would become almost unfair. While his power-play skills were there, his poor defensive play plagued the team and cost them both regular-season and playoff games in his three seasons with the club. In 2020-21, he finished with a minus-8 rating. In the 2020 Playoffs, he was a minus-2, and back in 2018-19, he had his worse plus-minus rating as a Panther, at minus-17. His defensive struggles have made his NMC feel like a ball and chain for the team’s general managers – first Dale Tallon and now Bill Zito.

The buyout window opened last week, so Florida has a chance to get him off of the books before the expansion draft. Of course, they could wait, but it would be a grave mistake to use up a protection slot on Yandle when they could protect a more valuable player.