Keith Yandle is the Arizona Coyotes' highest scoring defenseman since the franchise relocated 19 years ago. That's precisely why the New York Rangers acquired him at last season's trade deadline.
Yandle returns to Arizona for the first time since the deal Saturday night when the surging Rangers look to continue their dominance of the Coyotes.
Yandle's 246 assists and 311 points in eight-plus seasons are Arizona records among defensemen since the club moved from Winnipeg prior to the 1996-97 season. The two-time All-Star led the Coyotes in scoring in each of his last two full seasons with them, and his 41 points in 63 games in 2014-15 were good enough to tie for second behind Olivier Ekman-Larsson's 43.
Yandle's proficiency on the power play was evident as he recorded a team-record 143 points on the man advantage while with the Coyotes.
In search of scoring from the blue line, the Rangers (9-2-2) landed Yandle in a deal that included highly touted prospect Anthony Duclair going to Arizona.
Yandle had 11 points in 21 games for New York and matched that in 19 in the playoffs before the team was eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals.
Now, he's back in Glendale.
"He was the leading scorer of our team for a couple years, and he's the reason we got into the playoffs one year and had some success - because he played so well down the stretch," captain Shane Doan told the team's official website. "It should be incredible (on Saturday). I think he's excited."
Ekman-Larsson learned a lot from Yandle.
"He's an offensive guy, too, so I tried to watch and learn a little bit from him," he said. "He moves the puck so well and finds the lanes to get the puck to the net, and that's what I try to do. I think he helped me a lot with that."
Yandle helped the Rangers in his first meeting with the Coyotes on Oct. 22, scoring his only goal of the season on a power-play in a 4-1 victory.
The Rangers have won four straight matchups and 12 of the last 15. Their latest is part of their 6-0-1 stretch that continued with Friday's 2-1 win at Colorado. Yandle was held without a point but Derek Stepan and rookie Oscar Lindberg scored 21 seconds apart in the second period.
Lindberg leads all rookies with seven goals, netting three in four games.
"Everybody thought going into training camp that he should make our team," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's earned his ice time. He's been real good for us on both ends. He's a young player and should get better."
The Coyotes (6-5-1) are trying to win consecutive games at home for the first time this season after beating the Avalanche 4-2 on Thursday, ending a three-game skid there.
Duclair has cooled considerably after a fast start. He is tied with rookie Max Domi and Tobias Rieder with a team-high five goals, but is pointless in the last six games starting with the visit to New York.
Rieder, though, has a goal in each of the last two games after going five without one.
Domi, son of former Rangers fan favorite Tie Domi, had an assist against the Rangers last month, but he has just one point and is a minus-4 over the last three games.