It looked as though the ‘Canes might be finished, but JR and company plucked veteran center Stephane Yelle out of free agency this morning.

From a Boston perspective, it probably appears as though Carolina is picking up the Bruins’ veteran leftovers. The Bruins have some budgetary concerns and were forced to let go of some guys they probably would have preferred to hold on this offseason, and Carolina has added another castoff into the fold. However, Yelle is much better than his salary suggests. He has been consistently good in this league for a long time and seemingly still has several years to go before his career winds down.

He pots the occasional goal and is solid on the back end and has been one of the best face-off men in the league for a decade. If Eric Staal works on his face-offs this summer and Rod Brind’Amour continues to do his ‘thang,” the ‘Canes could be a force to be reckoned with in the circle.

He has played in 14 seasons – most with Colorado – and has two cup rings in his trophy case. He came within one game of earning his third with Calgary in 2004. He’s getting on in years but the ‘Canes got him for a bargain, only $550,000 for one season.

This drastically decreases the likelihood that one of Carolina’s young guns coming down the pipeline – Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk, both natural centers – will earn themselves a roster spot in training camp. It also leaves Carolina with five game-ready centers.

Eric Staal

Matt Cullen

Rod Brind’Amour

Chad LaRose

Stephane Yelle

Might a trade be on the horizon? Or is Carolina just looking for a little job security, since they have cap room?

Meanwhile, the top six defensemen seem pretty clear.

Joe Corvo – Tim Gleason

Joni Pitkanen – Aaron Ward

Niclas Wallin – Andrew Alberts

…with Tim Conboy ready to step in if Alberts goes down or just doesn’t work out.

In other news, just in case you didn’t hear – IRBE IS BACK!…just not in Carolina. The longtime Latvian netminder has crossed the Atlantic and went over to the “dark” side of the division. He will now serve as goaltending coach for the Washington Capitals.

Less than a month to go until the preseason begins. Who’s excited?