I can only assume that the guys recommending no jack plate have exactly zero idea where Vinnie will be fishing, and how. There are no boats without JP's that can get in there in the winter, much less maneuver once they do. I agree on no compression plate. A good three blade with a cup will work for him, or a good four blade.
I still don't get the fascination with the F70. I have run the X a lot of times with the 70 and the DF60 and there is hardly a difference, but the cost is about $3500, with a lesser warranty. The days of Yamaha superiority have passed, in my opinion. Good on them if they can keep charging that but I'd bet it won't last much longer. I can think of better ways to spend the $3500, but that is just me.
I also agree with the recommendation for a machine with at least one button.
Line X does a great keel guard.
I haven't used the Hull Marine jack plate but I have an 11 year old Atlas Micro with a lot of hours that is just starting to get sloppy so I am about to do the $150 HMP hardware upgrade kit to my Micro.
**EDIT- my avatar photo was taken on a negative low in December where Vinnie wants to fish. I know the area well.