The Bear Cave

August 20, 2009 8:39 AM

Hurricane Winds Point to Yelle at Center

The famous saying states that if you can't beat someone, you join them. That is now the case for Stephane Yelle, as the forward signed a new contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. Yelle signed a one-year deal worth $500,000 with the club that eliminated he and the Boston Bruins from the playoffs this past spring.

Stephane Yelle's stay in New England was a short one, as he was a member of the Bruins for less than one calendar year. Yelle signed with Boston on September 3, 2008, pocketing $750,000 for his one-year contract. In 77 regular season games with the Bruins, the Ottawa, ON native recorded seven goals, 11 assists, 18 points, and 32 penalty minutes. Yelle also appeared in all 11 postseason contests, picking up one assist and a minor penalty during that time.

Yelle will be entering his 14th NHL season this fall, and the Carolina Hurricanes will be the 35-year old's fourth organization. Stephane was originally drafted in the eighth round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, but never appeared in a single game with the Devils.

In June of 1994, he was dealt to the Quebec Nordiques, and proceeded to play with Quebec's AHL affiliate in Cornwall. That summer, the Nordiques moved to Denver, CO, and so did Yelle. The center made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche on October 6, 1995, and hasn't looked back since. Yelle spent the first eight seasons of his NHL career with the Avalanche, scoring 54 goals, 89 assists, and 143 points, in 505 games.

Stephane Yelle's next adventure came in October of 2002, when he was traded to the Calgary Flames. Chris Drury joined Yelle on the trip north, while Dean McAmmond, Jeff Shantz, and current Bruin Derek Morris went the other way. The 6-foot-2, 183-lbs. forward spent the next five NHL seasons in his native country of Canada, playing in 339 games with the Flames. In that span, Yelle had 31 goals, 45 assists, and 76 points.

Adding all of that to last year's total with the Bruins, Yelle has 92 goals, 165 assists, 257 points, and 458 penalty minutes in 921 career NHL regular season games. The 35-year old has also been a factor in the late part of the season, as Yelle's teams have only missed the playoffs once in his 13-year career. That season was 2002-03, when the Calgary Flames came up short. Yelle has two Stanley Cups from his time in Colorado, as well as a third appearance in the championship round with Calgary's 2003-04 club.

When looking at a player such as Stephane Yelle, the offensive numbers might not jump off of the page. However, Yelle is one of the better two-way forwards in the game today, and proved to be a solid member of Boston's penalty kill this past season. The Ottawa, ON native is also strong in the face-off circle, which could help in making the Hurricanes one of the most dangerous teams in that category. Yelle joins Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour at the center position.

Losing Yelle to Carolina isn't the most ideal situation for the Bruins, but most followers knew that he would not be returning to Causeway Street. On the first day of the free agency period, Boston signed Steve Begin, effectively spelling the end to Yelle's one-year stint in New England. The hope is that Begin will play a similar role to that of Yelle, while also contributing more on the physical side of things.

Stephane Yelle's signing now leaves Boston with two free agents - restricted Phil Kessel and unrestricted Manny Fernandez. Fernandez should ultimately be headed elsewhere at some point in these final few weeks of free agency, while Kessel's situation appears to be in limbo at the moment.

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