Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What the Yelle is going on here?

Surprise! The Bruins, who gave no indication they were planning on making any more moves this offseason, have signed Stephane Yelle.

To date, the reaction from Bruins faithful has been a collective "Er... Ok?". A team loaded with young, offensive minded centers and virtually no cap space -- of course they'd sign an aging, low-scoring center!

But Yelle brings something to the table that has been lacking on the Bruins roster the past couple of seasons -- faceoff prowess. Last season, Marc Savard was the only Bruin to take more than 300 faceoffs and have a winning record. While Yelle finished at 50% on the nose last season, he has historically been in the 53-55% range each season.

Also, Yelle gives the Bruins the ability to remove a top-line center from the penalty kill. Time will tell how it works out, but the safe money is that Savard gets some extra breathing time. That might turn out to be Yelle's biggest contribution to the offense, as we certainly shouldn't expect to see this too often from a guy who'll be lucky to score 10 goals.

In sum, the Bruins are paying bottom-dollar for a serviceable 4th-line center, penalty-killer and faceoff specialist. Yelle's contract is only for this season, and he'll be paid less than Petteri Nokelainen and Shane Hnidy, so presumably this addition is strictly aimed at deepening the roster and providing some injury insurance (remember late last season when David Krejci was the #1 center? Yeah, so does Peter Chiarelli). Though it might cost Vladimir Sobotka some ice time, worse moves have been made.

Possible forward lines:

Sturm - Savard - Ryder
Lucic - Bergeron - Kessel
Axelsson - Krejci - Kobasew
Schaefer - Yelle - Sobotka

Obligatory mention of Bryan McCabe: Check out this hilarious video of Chara treating McCabe like Patrick Roy's wife.

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The Bastahd said...

I kinda like the Yelle signing... gives the team some more grit and veteran leadership. My opinion of Nokie isn't all that high so maybe thats why I don't mind the signing. Besides, as Fluto pointed out yesteday, the B's are now at 24 players listed on the cap so someone has to go... question becomes who? Regardless, defensive-minded centers who can reliably win faceoffs and eat up PK minutes are always a plus, especially in a system like Julien's. Should be interesting to see how this pans out.

Oh, and thanks for the McCabe link... made my day!

Anonymous said...

im sorry, you are dead wrong when you said that would allow the bs to take savard off the pk. the bruins only put savvy on the pk because if he sits on the bench for the whole kill his head leaves the game. yelle is depth, hopefully thats all.

cristobal said...

Yelle was an asset at one time, you'll see if he still can bring something. He seems a better fit for a team that's on the verge of great things, though. Is he a retread at this point?

Some of those videos are great. I love the old stuff. Too bad youtube isn't in HD.

BTW - thanks for the comments at worldhockeydaily. Wrote you back if your interested.


cristobal said...

Oh, why does blogger seem so difficult to get into and comment. I write entire novellas, then can't get them posted. Are there still bugs, or is it my shite internet-machine skills?

Tom said...

I agree that Yelle seems more like a "finishing touch" type of acquisition, for a team preparing to make a deep playoff run. However, considering the tight squeeze the Bruins had to make in order to qualify for the playoffs last season, and the large strides being made by the Lightning to challenege for the playoff bubble, it might turn out to make a few critical points' difference to have a reliable faceoff man and defensive center -- especially if we have serious injury issues again. Not an ideal fit, but a sensible one.

Thanks for the comments... will continue to visit your site.

andrewrice said...

tom - no love for shawn thornton on line 4? its tough to fit him in i know, but i'd say shaef's gotta prove he can be counted on (like in last seasons playoffs) and let thornton protect our main guys out there, letting lucic focus more on scoring.

Tom said...

IMO, Schaefer simply makes too much money to sit. I hate for it to come to that, but $2.1m has to add up to something under the cap system. So I see them starting the season with him essentially in job-saving mode, and then either buying him out or dealing him by the end of the year if he continues to struggle. If that happens, Thornton should take the spot (and of course there will be injuries and other opportunities for him along the way).