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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

With Yelle, Canes Loaded at Center

Wednesday, 08.19.2009 / 12:31 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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With Yelle, Canes Loaded at Center
The Hurricanes bolstered their depth at center today with the signing of veteran Stephane Yelle, most recently of the Boston Bruins, to a one-year contract.

Paul Branecky
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The 35-year-old Yelle, who is expected to fill a checking line role with the team, brings a number of important intangibles with him to Carolina. He won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001 and served as an alternate captain at times in his only season with the Bruins last year, giving him plenty of experience and leadership.  

“He knows how to win and he knows his place on the team,” said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford, who consulted with Aaron Ward, a teammate of Yelle’s in Boston last season, before making the move. “We’re really excited about this signing, which gives us a lot more depth to our forwards.”

The move, which Rutherford believes to be his final signing of the offseason, gives the Hurricanes four solid centers along with Rod Brind’Amour, Matt Cullen and Eric Staal. Additionally, Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu can also play there if needed, and first-round pick Brandon Sutter will be just a phone call away in the American Hockey League.

All that amounts to a ton of depth at one of the most important positions in which a team could ask to have it.

“When you look at our team going into last season with where were at center-ice wise, we have so much more depth and experience there now,” said Rutherford.

That includes Brind’Amour, whose exact role may not be determined until training camp, but whom Rutherford thinks can still have a big season.

”Rod Brind’Amour is still a good player,” said Rutherford. “He may be the second-line center. I think with the 12 forwards that we have now, it gives our coaching staff a lot of flexibility over the course of a very long season. I expect and I believe Rod Brind’Amour will play a big role on this team next season.”

The move, if indeed it is the last, caps a busy summer for the Hurricanes, who have signed Yelle, Andrew Alberts and Tom Kostopoulos in addition to bringing back most of their own free agents and trading for Aaron Ward.

Those moves ended up costing a little bit more money than the team had anticipated, but adjustments were made in order to accommodate the formation of what could be a contender in the coming year.

“We’ve moved way up on the cap, higher than we’ve ever been, but we’re also a team that won the Cup a couple of years ago and went to the conference finals last year,” said Rutherford. “Our organization believes that we’ve got a chance to win again.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45